UN delays 'green scheme' ruling

2010-09-20 09:34

London - A UN panel has delayed key decisions on a scheme meant to reward projects that cut carbon emissions in developing countries, including whether to approve a modern coal plant for such incentives.

The UN's clean development mechanism (CDM) allows rich countries to meet caps on carbon emissions by paying for carbon cuts in the developing world, under the Kyoto Protocol.

Countries and companies in the developed world last year paid $2.7bn to developers in poorer countries for such emissions cuts under the scheme, mostly to big industrial projects, wind farms and hydropower plants in China and India.

Rich countries buy carbon offsets, which are each equivalent to one tonne of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. A 10-member panel of UN experts oversees the scheme, deciding which projects should qualify.

In a meeting on Friday, the panel put off a decision whether to approve a coal plant for the first time in the programme, saying it would review a request for approval made by the 1.3GW coal plant in Tirora, India, owned by Adani Power Limited .


Coal is the most carbon-emitting form of power generation, but Adani says its 1.3GW, super-critical coal plant - one which burns coal at a higher temperature and thus emits less carbon dioxide - is more efficient than most.

The CDM has long been criticised for being heavily biased toward large industrial projects, and especially large chemical plants which destroy a potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23.

Such HFC projects account for about half all carbon offsets issued by the UN CDM's executive board so far. The project developers earn far more money under the scheme than it costs them to destroy the greenhouse gas.

The panel said it would decide on possible changes to rewards for HFC-23 projects at its meeting in Cancun, Mexico, from November 22 - 26.

The panel approved, subject to minor corrections, one large gas power plant, on the basis that although it burns fossil fuels it emits less carbon than conventional coal plants.

The project was the 340MW gas plant, owned by Bhander Power Limited, in India. The panel also said it would review further a 1.2GW natural gas plant in China, owned by the Hangzhou Huadian Banshan Power Generation Company.

Public consultation

The CDM has registered 2 379 projects worldwide as of September 17, and approved 433 million carbon offsets, each equal to one tonne of avoided greenhouse gas emissions - in all, equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Mexico.

The panel ruled on 64 projects awaiting CDM registration, plus four others which had had to supply corrections. It approved 41 projects, and decided to conduct more reviews on a further 26, while it said it could not register one project.

It also called for a public consultation on whether to make project consultants liable for their mistakes, and have to buy back carbon offsets where developers had claimed too many. The rules would be considered at its next meeting, on October 12 - 14.