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Environmental Studies

CDM- How Clean is the Clean Development Mechanism?

The Beginning
The Kyoto Protocol

United States: 
economy vs. ecology

International Reaction to US

Where India Stands

Citizen Science in India

References & Links

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CDM- How Clean Is The Clean Development Mechanism?



“ no sooner does the US president flex his muscles on climate change which he called ‘the biggest challenge facing civilization world-wide’ does the powerful Congress slap him across the hand”[1]

            The North, or the Annex1 party includes the industrialized nations of the world; such as the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, Russia and Japan. The leading contributor of GHG emissions is the United States at 20% of global CO2 emissions.

            The carbon footprint of the United States is five times that of China and over 15 times that of India. In 1996 one US citizen emitted as much as 17 Maldivians, 19 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 49 Sri Lankans, 107 Bangladeshis, 134 Bhutanese and 268 Nepalese.

            The Kyoto Protocol would clearly be meaningless without America’s participation. The US position has been carefully orchestrated to be dependent on the actions of developing countries. In 1997 the senate passed a resolution that called on the president not to sign any treaty/agreement at the Kyoto Protocol unless two conditions were met. Unsurprisingly they were:

             Firstly not to sign anything that placed ‘legally binding obligations’  that required the US to cut down on emissions unless it is also mandatory for developing counties to cut down on theirs within the same compliance period.

               Secondly the president was not to sign anything that might result in serious economic harm to the economy of the US.

            Christine Todd Whitman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator stated: "I would hope that you would understand that no one, particularly with this administration, would jeopardize public health because of campaign contributions. I don't see that happening as decisions are made."


             The US strategy also threatened no cooperation at all unless developing countries proposed ‘meaningful action’; and of course, the US was to be the judge of what was ‘meaningful enough’. The second step of their strategy was to come to an essentially ‘weak’ agreement as possible in Kyoto.

            Interestingly for a protocol designed for an environmental crisis, politics and economics come to have more of a say than science itself. While the United States President George W. Bush opposes the pact because it does not bind developing nations to the same emissions cuts in the same time period, he also believes that the costs would out weight the benefits. What the US doesn’t seem to understand is that if the CDM mechanism was in fact beneficial it would have already been undertaken; and as global warming begins to show effects we don’t have time to make money out of a global calamity. Bush says that "We also have an energy crisis. And the idea of placing caps on carbon dioxide does not make economic sense for America,”.

                Kurt Volker, principal deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, at the German Marshall Fund meeting in Berlin on Feb. 12 stated in his address that he feels that this is where the United States is leading the world. Their approach is providing concrete results, even as their economy expands. “And this brings me to my point: cutting our economies  or even just holding them in place with zero further growth, jobs or human development is not an option for any of us in the industrialized world.”


            President Bush has re-entered the global warming debate by unveiling his alternative to the 1997 Kyoto agreement on global warming. His plan offers incentives to businesses to voluntarily reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 4.5 percent over 10 years and to reduce power plant emissions.  Bush's plan is dramatically lower than the estimated 33 percent mandatory reduction sought by the Kyoto agreement for the United States, the world's largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations and the western industrialized world had relied heavily on U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol. Without the U. S., Kyoto was left, principally, with Canada and the EU, a fraction of the anticipated combined wealth of all.


            The north has consumed more than its share of this global resource and according to this agreement, the north can just walk away from this mess they have created and will no longer be held accountable for anything.

[1] Politics in the Post Kyoto World: CSE briefing paper 2.

The United States is in control.
copyright of picture: CSE


When will the United States govt. take action?

Last updated:  2/2/2006


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