Monday, 8 December 2008

60k a year to save the planet - CDM has arrived in the Middle East.

"Due to business growth and increased customer demand, a pioneering Environmental Advisory Services Consultancy based in the UAE seeks to hire a Carbon Sourcing and Advisory Manager to join their successful team." reads the job description for the post of 'Carbon Sourcing and Advisory Manager' . Its seems like a fair deal - go to the UAE, identify ways to reduce emissions and get paid a fair loaf for doing so. Nobody thought sorting out climate change would be cheap did they?

Last week I spent some time reading up on CDM, or the Clean Development Mechanism. As the UN(FCCC) website explains: 'The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), defined in Article 12 of the Protocol, allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.'' See here.

Or as George Monbiot put it to Yvo de Boer (see below post and link to video) 'a money printing exercise'. There certainly appears to be a growing industry around the CDM and the trading of CER credits. There does also seem to be a wide variety of projects undertaken and proposed that look as if they will achieve emissions reductions 'that are additional to what would otherwise have occurred' (UNFCCC).

But the efficiency and effectiveness of the CDM as a process for realising GHG emissions, globally, is very much open to question. Spend a bit of time looking aorund the CDM Bazaar webiste and you'll get a feel for how the market is sturctured.
Sellers are runnning emissions mitigation projects, or looking to set them up. They therefore have CER credits to sell, or are looking for investment from Buyers, on the basis that they will achieve credits, which can be bought out and then traded on the markets.

Let's imagine I have mate in the Phillipines, who has some land and a 'positive relationship' with the local planning officials. We might form a company - let's call it 'SolarDrain' and put together a propoal to build a small solar farm, linked into local factories, homes etc.

We then make a guesstimate as to the emissions reductions our plant might be able to deliver over a given period of years. This will give us a sense of how many CER credits we would receive.

Now we can go to potential investors, or buyers, and invite them to specultatively buy up our CER's. They'll be looking to pay the bare minimum and we'll be looking for enough to cover the project and a nice meal or two.

Sufficed to say, I'm now going to work out, by looking at existing projects, what you might expect to get per CER from a buyer and what sort of expenditure a Seller might be expecting to make for each CER they realise. E.g. if it costs me X to build a solar plant and I can get >X from selling CERs, then I'm getting straight onto my man in Manila. To save some Carbon of course......

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