Do Hydropower Projects Need The CDM?

By CWR 7 June, 2010

Hydropower projects in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) have come under increasing scrutiny. China Water Risks explores whether hydropower projects should be eligible for carbon credits.

Payal Parekh and Katy Yan of International Rivers, give their view.
Carbon expert, Liam Salter weighs in.

Hydropower projects in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) have come under increasing scrutiny. Environmental groups criticise the CDM for having failed its objectives to support global emission reductions and build sustainable energy options in developing countries. The accusation is that many of the emission credits generated are sourced from projects that would have gone ahead without the CDM. And the biggest source: hydropower projects in China.

Hydropower projects constitute a quarter of all projects in the CDM pipeline, and 67% of these, or about 700 projects, are in China. Controversy over the Chinese dams recently led the European Climate Exchange (ECX), the world’s leading market for trading carbon credits, to renew its ban on large hydropower Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), which are carbon credits issued by the CDM executive board.  (For a montly update of hydropower projects in the CDM pipleline, click here.)

Energy and climate expert, Dr Jeanne Ng, responsible for the corporate environmental policy and strategy across the CLP Group, believes that the CDM is currently going through (the inevitable) “teething” problems, and that time will smoothen out the process, similar to what happened with the US’ acid rain programme.

Should hydropower projects be eligible for carbon credits? China Water Risk features the following expert opinions-

Payal Parekh and Katy Yan of International Rivers, an environmental group focused on protecting rivers, are staunchly critical of hydropower in the CDM, as well as the rationale behind the CDM itself.

Liam Salter, businessman and carbon expert who helped build the Gold Standard, argues that for all the failings of CDM, it has been a useful tool in increasing levels of transparency and consultation – CDM projects undergo a more rigorous assessment compared to standard energy projects. Without the CDM, many of China’s hydropower (and wind) projects will still be built, but they will drop below the radar and monitoring becomes increasingly more difficult.

CWR
Author: CWR

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