Tim Jones, policy officer for the World Development Movement is travelling to Poland to attend the UN climate conference talks.
Tim's no stranger to going on epic journeys to promote action on climate change - last year he walked over 1,000 miles on the Christian Aid cut the carbon march.

Monday, 8 December 2008


What were you doing on Saturday evening? Watching X-factor? A relaxing meal after being on a climate protest? Drinking a beer and bemoaning Leeds’ defeat to Tranmere?

Fortunately or unfortunately I was participating in none of these, but instead joined the International Emissions Trading Association for an event on the future of the Clean Development Mechanism.

Henry Derwent, President and CEO of the business lobby group IETA, chaired the meeting. Until last year Henry led the UK government delegation in climate negotiations, but obviously the UK’s support for carbon offsetting has had nothing to do with Henry being rewarded with his job at IETA.

There was wide-spread agreement in the room that there is a big problem that many CDM projects are not “additional”- they have done nothing to decrease emissions. Simon Marr from the European Commission said that 40 per cent of CDM projects are not additional to what would have happened without CDM funding.

Not that this should get in the way of emissions trading. One business delegate present said “I am reviled by the thought that because of issues around additionality we should abandon the CDM. By engaging with additionality issues we have increased transaction costs which has added to the burdens of business.”

Andrei Marcou from IETA told us that “The CDM has largely been successful” and that those opposed to the CDM “have an allergy to it”.

I have an exotic allergy to sheep and goats cheese. I am not sure of the comparison with the CDM, as reading about dodgy offset projects has not previously brought me out in huge swellings and rashes in the same way as a lump of feta will. However, by now I was getting exasperated if not asphyxiated.

None of the corporate speakers had made any reference to how the CDM and offsetting could help meet global targets for emissions reductions or limit the increase in global temperature to a certain level. There had been no consideration of climate change as a justice issue, or the negative impacts of climate change across the world.

I asked the panel to fill this gap: what is their vision of how we could keep global temperature increase to 2°C if rich countries continue to emit and reach their reduction targets through offsetting in poor countries?

The business people did not seem to understand the question. It was left to Simon Marr from the European Commission to declare that the need to cut emissions in the EU and support action in developing countries as well means that “offsetting has to stop”.

Hallelujah! Someone has seen the light!

But no. In conversation afterwards Simon did not regard the EU meeting half of its reduction targets through buying CDM credits as offsetting.

I may not be allergic to the CDM, but as my eyes puff up and the rashes develop on my arm, an illogical argument joins mediterranean cheeses on my list of things to avoid consuming.

1 comment:

Alex Jones said...

Excellent post dear brother!

Having seen your nephew puff up in the same way, I wonder now whether we should ask the doctors to test for illogical arguments alongside nuts!