Simplifying the CDM by loosening monitoring rules can help ensure it survives among the patchwork of climate policy instruments that will be needed to tackle global warming, the UN’s climate chief said on Tuesday.
“In the beginning it was really important for the CDM to quantify (emission reductions) minutiously, (but) as there is now such a need for more scale, it becomes unnecessary,” Christiana Figueres told delegates at the Carbon Expo in Barcelona.
“I would rather get to volume and scale and calibrate materiality,” she added.
Niclas Svenningsen, a senior UNFCCC official, stressed that simplifying the mechanism did not mean environmental integrity was not important, adding that it was time for a “more realistic stage” of the CDM.
“(The CDM) has to work in a context. If you don’t find reasonable balance then it’s simply not going to work.”
Most CDM activities to date have been via projects at individual sites, but the mechanism has developed PoAs to bundle projects and passed several rules in recent years on “materiality” to allow developers to earn credits even where some data is lacking.
The UNFCCC hosted a session at the Expo looking at the future of the CDM, which has issued 1.5 billion CERs and channelled $350 billion of investments to carbon-cutting projects in developing countries.
But investment in the mechanism has slowed to a trickle as the EU and Japan exhausted their initial demand for the units and countries have taken years to negotiate a new global climate pact, due to be signed Paris in December.
Figueres insisted the all the experiences of the CDM, though not necessarily the mechanism itself, were useable in the new deal to cover the post-2020 period.
These centred on the scheme’s ability to measure emission reductions, involve the private sector and provide support to developing countries, she added.
When asked how the CDM could be used by the Green Climate Fund, Figueres said the post-2020 period would likely see existing climate policy tools such as the CDM blend with new ones.
“I can’t imagine we’ll be able to get to the mitigation levels required without having a much much wiser blending of instruments … where each has a role, moving away from projects to true transformational agreements.”
She said that even if the role of carbon market mechanisms was not explicitly spelled out in the Paris agreement, the ambition of individual national mitigation pledges is far less than “what can be done in cooperation together”.
She expected to see more INDCs with conditional pledges – such as Mexico – whereby countries agree to make deeper emission reductions if they can get more cooperation.
Along with the US, the EU’s INDC focused on domestic emission reductions, and neither intends to make use of international market mechanisms – a move criticised by carbon market proponents.
But Figueres said this was “very justified reticence of the EU” for being concerned about being wholly responsible for the fate of the CDM.
“The CDM is not an EU responsibility, it’s a shared responsibility”.
“I take heart from consistent messages where (the EU) are very clear they will be heading for at least 40% (emission reduction in 2030),” she said, adding that there is “space to be filled in.”
In his opening address to the Expo, Europe’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete reiterated the EU’s line that the bloc could deepen its 2030 emission reduction target of -40% on the basis of a strong global deal at the year-end in Paris, and that this could involve use of international markets.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org