05 September 2011

Wikileaks and EU climate targets

A cable detailing a 2008 spat between the EU and US on climate change targets sheds light on the EU’s lack of ambition.

In a frank exchange on March 7, U.S. and European principals reviewed work on climate change under the Major Economies and UNFCCC Processes. U.S. principals secured EU Environment Commissioner Dimas' admission that current EU proposals will permit some EU Member States to record absolute increases in emissions by 2020.

Dimas conceded that “some EU Member States will be permitted under the EU's proposals to record an absolute increase in emissions by 2020.”

Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality at the time, further questioned the EU’s achievements in relation to its Kyoto targets:

for Europe, 1990 as a reference year incorporates the early 1990s economic collapse of eastern Europe, which no policymaker would recommend be repeated; the UK's decision to move away from coal to natural gas, long before climate change was a policy issue; and the EU's use of diesel fuel, at the expense of air quality and human health.

Wikileaks and the CDM: no "additionality" in India

Several of the recently released wikileaks cables discuss the CDM in passing. A cable on the CDM in India is particularly enlightening, however. It reports on a seminar with the US Consulate General Office (Congenoff) and analysts from the Government Accountability Office (which later released a skeptical study on offsets).

At a seminar on CDM in Mumbai, R K Sethi, Member Secretary of the National CDM Authority and the present Chairman of the CDM Executive Board, publicly admitted that the National CDM Authority takes the "project developer at his word" for clearing the "additionality" barriers. Mathsy Kutty of Det Norske Veritas (DNV), a CDM Executive Board-accredited validation and verification organization for CDM projects, told ConGenoff that the designated authorities of host countries approve projects in a cursory manner and do not check to see whether the project meets all the requirements laid down by the CDM Executive Board. CDM projects in India do not have to be validated or verified to get host country approval while both processes are mandatory to get the project registered with the UNFCCC, she continued. For this reason, she pointed out, Indian projects account for 44 percent of the total projects rejected by the CDM Executive Board.

Most Indian CDM projects are initiated without foreign backing, and

For this reason, Santonu Kashyap of Asia Carbon maintains that Indian projects can never fulfill the additionality requirement as no developer will risk investing in a project unless he is certain of a revenue stream independent of the CDM incentive. In a separate discussion with GAO analysts and ConGenoff, Jamshed Irani, Director of Tata Sons and the Chairman of the Tata group's Steering Committee on Sustainability, agreed that no Indian company is brave enough to rely entirely on a CDM-driven revenue stream.

Although all of the CDM project developers spoken to claim that their projects have sustainability benefits, the cable concludes that

Amidst complaints about the "arbitrary" decisions of the CDM Executive Board, all interlocutors conceded that all Indian projects fail to meet the additionality in investment criteria and none should qualify for carbon credits.