Gold standards for Kyoto projects

A conservation charity has launched a new means of assessing emissions reductions projects, offering gold standards for those that are sustainable and particularly beneficial.

World Wildlife Fund is awarding gold standards for selected greenhouse gas reduction projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI). CDM and JI allow governments and firms to offset their emissions through investment in clean technology projects.

The charity launched the scheme at the UN’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP8) currently being held in Delhi, India. The gold standard was developed by WWF following consultation with environmental, business and governmental organizations. It aims to ensure that CDM and JI projects provide both climate and sustainable development benefits. If designed correctly, argues the WWF, these projects can accelerate the spread of sustainable energy technologies.

WWF and other groups are also concerned that the CDM/JI rules contain loopholes that are likely to create projects that have no net environmental benefit. They argue that some projects currently proposed would have occurred anyway and therefore offsets are claimed while emissions continue to increase.

The gold standard outlines a series of criteria that should meet, including a clear focus on sustainable energy technologies, additionality and concrete sustainable development benefits. It also requires a high level of public participation, particularly by communities affected by projects. An independent international Standards Advisory Board has approved the standard and will oversee its further refinement.

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