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EU criteria for CDM projects unchanged

24 May 2011 18:04:10

A European policy response to the risk of the clean development mechanism (CDM) being linked to human rights abuses is still outstanding, more than a month after a carbon project in Honduras was connected to a company that human rights groups claim is linked to death squads hired to settle a land dispute, EU and lobby sources have revealed.

The case in Honduras was the first time a CDM project was accused of being indirectly associated with possible human rights abuses. EDF Trading subsequently abandoned the project (see EDCM 14 April 2011).

EU-level activity

As the EU emissions trading directive is open to quality restrictions on certified emission reductions (CERs) as of 2013, sources suggested at the time that criteria could be widened to include projects linked to human rights abuses.

"The [European] Commission understands the issue has been brought to the attention of the CDM Executive Board, who is assessing the situation," a spokesman for the Climate Action directorate said. The outcome will steer the Commission's next steps on the issue, he added.

However, a European Parliament source confirmed the issue had not yet been formally raised and that the Commission had not made any proposals. "Parliament can't act by itself and the Commission hasn't put anything on the table as such," she said.

Too early to tell

Eva Filzmoser, director for lobby group CDM Watch, which investigated the Honduras project, said it was in early discussions and that no policy opinion had been formed yet.

"Nobody has stated in favour or against," she said, adding that there was strong momentum for a change of criteria.

Filzmoser said the Commission may choose to address the issue in a tabled report - to investigate the integrity of CDM projects - which is expected later this year.

While she conceded that the study was not explicitly linked to the human rights abuses, it could be interpreted as an opportunity to examine whether any additional criteria or restrictions are needed for CDM projects.

"I hope that in this context the decision [of whether to introduce human rights criteria] will be touched upon or that Commission moves on this issue," Filzmoser said.

However, the Commission said that while it continues to look at the integrity of CDM projects and how they function, no further restrictions are foreseen or planned at the moment.

Alternatively, Filzmoser suggested, EU member states could request additional safeguards and call for these to be introduced at an European level. MLDB

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