UN Carbon Credits Program May Have Increased CO2 Emissions

Around three-quarters of the carbon credits issued under Joint Implementation (JI) may actually have increased emissions by about 600 million metric tons, according to a new study by the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI).

JI allows countries with emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to generate Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from carbon reduction projects and transfer them to other countries.

As of March 2015, almost 872 million ERUs had been issued under JI, the report says. However, a random sample of 60 JI projects found that 73 percent of the offsets came from projects that likely would have happened even without carbon revenues. Overall, the study found that about 80 percent of ERUs came from project types of low or questionable environmental integrity and more than 95 percent of ERUs were issued by countries with significant allowance surpluses of allowances.

Ukraine and Russia both have benefited the most from JI, the report says, issuing a combined total of 90 percent of ERUs. Many projects registered by Ukraine and Russia in 2011 and 2012 had started long before JI and were not motivated by carbon credits.

The large issuance of questionable credits toward the end of the first Kyoto commitment period contributed to the collapse of credit prices, according to the report, potentially hurting legitimate carbon projects that required carbon revenues to be viable.

Global emissions have reached a new peak, but recent developments indicate a new readiness for action on climate protection, according to the 10th edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), released late last year. The list ranked the climate-protection performance of the 58 highest emitters worldwide and was published by Germanwatch and CAN Europe at the COP20 Climate Conference in Lima.

Ahead of the upcoming COP21 meeting in December, the United States, Canada, the member states of the European Union, and several other countries have proposed greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. And more and more groups continue to alert world leaders to the urgent need for a clear, decisive international climate action agreement — most recently, archbishop Desmond Tutu, designer Vivienne Westwood, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and 95 other signatories of a mass call for action at COP21.


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