Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I wrote previously about the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. In that post, I pointed out an underlying irony of the CDM. At the behest of European AGW supporters who would never, ever think of allowing the building of a hydroelectric dam in their own country, European money is being sent to China where it is used to build … hydroelectric dams.
Of course, it being part of the UN, there’s always more to the CDM story. In this case the “more” is provided by Wikileaks, in particular a diplomatic cable that discussed the CDM in India. The fraud revealed in the cable was so egregious, in fact, that even the AGW supporting Scientific American said:
… most of the carbon-offset projects in India fail to meet the CDM requirements set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
So most of the projects that were funded, shouldn’t have been funded. OK, it’s a private-sector scam within a UN scam. Insert your preferred expression of surprise here, along with the required quote from Casablanca.
So far, no big shocks, we find that a UN project is corrupt root and branch, be still my beating heart. But it raised a different question in my mind. Which CDM requirements couldn’t the Indian projects meet? I mean, these are Indian businessmen, I’d have said there was no requirement that they couldn’t figure out how to meet (or at a minimum pretend to meet) … so what was the regulation that was laying them low? The leaked cable contains the Kafkaesque answer.
The hurdle that the Indian projects couldn’t get over is something I hadn’t heard of called the “additionality criteria”. This says the project has to be something that is additional, something that wouldn’t otherwise happen without the CDM assistance. The Kyoto Protocol says that projects that would occur without CDM assistance are not “additional”, and so they should not be certified as emission reductions. Or as the leaked cable puts it in delightful bureaucratese:
(Note: The project has to prove that it does not use commonly-available technology and that it is unviable without carbon credit revenue. End Note.)
Now that the note has ended, stop and consider that for a moment … the project has to use unusual, cutting edge, novel technology, and it has to be a project that would fail without the CDM.
If I set out to make some guidelines for assistance to emission reduction technologies, those seem like the polar opposite of the guidelines I would make.
First, why not allow the use of proven, reliable, available emission reduction technologies along with unusual, cutting edge technologies with no track record? Instead of reducing emissions, aren’t you reducing your chances of success way, way down by only allowing what may not work?
Second, why fund projects that are “unviable”, as the jargon would have it, if you don’t assist them? As a businessman, the idea of specifically selecting a project for funding on the basis that it absolutely won’t work without free money is … well … it would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. The regulation requires that you pick incipient losers, ideas guaranteed to go belly-up unless you shower them with largesse … which seems to this boy like a very poor way to pick winners.
Given those requirements, I can now understand why the majority of the Indian projects “fail to meet the CDM requirements set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
It’s because the CDM requirements are set up so that only impending failures can have a hope of success.
Did I mention Kafka? Perhaps I was thinking of Catch-22 …
In any case, this whole idea of offsetting your carbon sins by paying carbon indulgences seems like a killer idea, it puts the Nigerian 419 scams to shame. My plan is to bring this same brilliant concept to the masses by extending the whole theory of carbon offsets and “carbon neutrality” to encompass sexual fidelity.
Here’s the scheme in all of its beauty: if you want to cheat on your wife or husband, you pay me a fee. I split the fee with one of my employees (actually independent contractors, if anyone is looking for work) who promises not to cheat on their wife or husband for the same amount of time that you have paid for. That way, for a small fee (payable by cash, cheque, or credit card) you can rest assured that your extra-marital actions are “fidelity neutral”.
Makes as much sense as the CDM process, and it would likely make more money. Hey, maybe I could even get some free CDM bucks … oh, wait, I’d have to overcome the “additionality criteria” …
PS – Required Conflict of Interest Statement: at various times in my life, my grandmother, my father, and my mother all worked for the United Nations …