Genesis of the CDM: the original policymaking goals of the 1997 Brazilian proposal and their evolution in the Kyoto protocol negotiations into the CDM

Abstract

A body of literature is emerging applying critical consideration to the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism’s (‘CDM’) achievement of policy goals regarding sustainable development, geographical distribution of projects and related matters. This article places this literature in the context of the policymaking goals of the CDM’s Brazilian architects. The CDM arose from the Brazilian Proposal’s Clean Development Fund, and was negotiated between Brazil and the United States in the weeks preceding the Kyoto Conference of Parties. The CDM’s Brazilian architects continued to pursue their underlying policy goals by taking a leadership position in the Marrakesh Accords negotiations. During this period Brazil’s primary policy objectives comprised achieving meaningful mitigation of GHG emissions to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, derailing a perceived US/IPCC initiative to allocate emissions cap obligations in the Kyoto Protocol on the basis of current emissions, and taking a leadership position both among the G-77 and China and in the multilateral climate negotiations as a whole. The CDM arose in this context from the G-77 and China’s desire to coerce the North’s compliance with the North’s emissions cap obligations through an alternative means of compliance. As a result, there was no focus on broad conceptions of sustainable development, or on broad distribution of CDM projects throughout the South. Instead, the CDM’s Brazilian architects envisioned that CDM-related sustainable development would arise exclusively from the presence of the CDM projects. Similarly, the Brazilian Proposal advocated allocation of the Clean Development Fund on a basis proportionate to each non-Annex I countries projected 1990–2010 greenhouse gas emissions. These views persisted through the evolution of the Clean Development Fund into the CDM and through Marrakesh Accords negotiations. This article argues that the CDM has largely met the policy goals of its Brazilian architects and that the pursuit of different, additional, refined or more nuanced policy goals necessitates corresponding refinements to the CDM, or any successor mechanism, specifically targeting those different, additional, refined or more nuanced policy objectives, lending support to the emerging literature proposing changes to the CDM to pursue corresponding policy objectives.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Officially entitled Proposed Elements of a Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Presented by Brazil in Response to the Berlin Mandate, dated 28 May 1997.

  2. 2.

    Based on a comparison between the Brazilian Proposal and the IS92a emission scenario, a mid-range scenario involving a population increase to 11.3 billion by 2100, 2.3% annual economic growth and a mix of conventional and renewable energy sources, with the only emission reductions arising from ratified international agreements and national policies enacted into law.

  3. 3.

    The author acknowledges André Tavares’ contribution to the formulation of this analysis.

  4. 4.

    Kyoto Protocol Art. 12.2.

  5. 5.

    As contained in Brazilian Proposal Annex A8.1, entitled Fund distribution among non-Annex I Parties according to relative contribution to climate change with respect to 1990-2010 CO2 emissions (IS92a scenario, including 1990 concentration), in the column entitled ‘Brazilian Proposal: % of CDF proceeds’.

  6. 6.

    1 January 2010 data calculated on the basis of the UNEP Risø CDM/JI Pipeline Analysis and Database, 1 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010: www.uneprisoe.org. Table 1 constitutes an extract of these materials, listing each country that exceeds 1.00% in any of the three columns. The author acknowledges the contribution of J.D.G. Miguez in structuring this analysis.

  7. 7.

    Article 12, Política Nacional sobre Mudança do Clima [National Policy on Climate Change], Lei N° 12.187, de 29 de dezembro de 2009.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge the helpful comments on earlier drafts and incarnations of this paper received from Diana Liverman, Dave Frame, Timmons Roberts, Nate Hultman, Katharine Wilkinson, Joel Scriven, Carlos Sayao, Harro van Asselt, Otavio Sayao, Eduardo Ferreira, Elizabeth Cole and two anonymous reviewers. All mistakes remain my responsibility.

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Cole, J.C. Genesis of the CDM: the original policymaking goals of the 1997 Brazilian proposal and their evolution in the Kyoto protocol negotiations into the CDM. Int Environ Agreements 12, 41–61 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10784-010-9132-8

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Keywords

  • Brazilian proposal
  • CDM
  • Clean development fund
  • Clean development mechanism
  • Climate change
  • Kyoto protocol
  • Sustainable development