The Pursuit of Climate Protection and the Uneven Global Distribution of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Projects: Lesson from Least Developed Countries (LDCS)

By Agbonifo, Philip | European Journal of Sustainable Development, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

The Pursuit of Climate Protection and the Uneven Global Distribution of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Projects: Lesson from Least Developed Countries (LDCS)


Agbonifo, Philip, European Journal of Sustainable Development


1. Introduction

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is a project based "flexible mechanisms", largely regarded as a climate protection instrument, the first and by far the largest carbon offset instrument of its kind, established to achieve cost effective solutions to mitigate climate change. The mechanism is meant to bring about a range of direct and indirect economic and social effects in the project country, which aims to contribute to sustainable development and provides a standardised environmental protection and development instrument through Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits (Shishlov and Bellassen 2012),. It allows industrialised nations with an obligation to protect the environment and to achieve their reduction targets by supporting appropriate projects to limit climate change in developing countries, amongst other things (UNFCC 2011). Similarly, Lutken (2011) argued that the cost of environmental protection varies considerably from region to region, as a result of differences in, for example, energy sources, energy efficiency and waste management. Furthermore, he maintained that the world has embraced the mechanism - with all its flaws and shortcomings as an instrument for international cooperation on sustainable development and environmental protection. This development, therefore, suggests that the CDM continues to appear to sustain uneven development patterns overlooking those most in need (Woods et al 2015).

The main major objective of the CDM is to assist weak economies to solve their environmental problem, and this argument has attracted much attention in the literature. Interestingly, researchers have focused on reviews of the CDM projects activities and trends, theoretical prediction of factors affecting project distribution, analyses of the technology transfer and development impacts of CDM projects. Furthermore, the World Bank and the UNFCCC publishes annual review of activity in the carbon market that includes a breakdown of CDM project buyers, host countries, and project types. There are other review which focus on the market potential for CDM projects, with particular reference to the dominance of China, India, Latin America and other emerging markets (Olsen and Fenhann 2008; Watson and Fankhauser 2009). Even though CDM has made notable contribution to climate change, however, some literature (Silayan 2005; Boyd et al 2009; Olawuyi 2010; Michaelowa et al 2014) have documented the lack of CdM projects in LDCs, however, they offer little in the way of potential solution.

The policy document and academic literature argument suggest that the CDM as presently constituted does not have the potential to influence development in the LDCs, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East (Silayan 2005; Michaelowa et al 2014; Wood et al 2015). The measure of hope and progress accruing from CDM projects across the world have gone to the emerging countries of China, India, Brazil and Mexico with very little opportunities for investment in the LDCs. In his article on the problem of justice in the global climate markets, Sovacool (2011) argued that the critical questions about justice in the CDM is that they tend to benefit the countries that are most industrialised (or industrialising), not actually those most in need. The CDM is a competitive mechanism and has continuously favoured the industrialised countries and that explains why the strong and emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India has continued to attract investors as oppose to the poorest countries in Africa and Middle East that are in dire need of projects but lack such capacity. Because investors have quickly exploited the best location and most profitable projects, thus the CDM has further created the problem of inequalities between countries.

The inclusion of more developed nations in the climate change process evidently revealed that current trends of the CDM show a clustering of projects towards a few larger developing countries. …

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