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LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Several members of a United Nations panel recommended on Wednesday that the procedure of issuing U.N. carbon credits to industrial gas projects which destroy hydrofluorocarbon-23 (HFC-23) should be revised.
“If we get it wrong the consequences are enormous because of the high global warming potential of these credits. This justifies a cautious approach to this methodology,” said panel member Thomas Bernheim in a webcast.
The U.N.’s clean development mechanism (CDM) allows rich countries to meet caps on carbon emissions by paying for carbon cuts in the developing world, under the Kyoto Protocol.
Countries and companies in the developed world last year paid $2.7 billion to developers in poorer countries for such emissions cuts under the scheme, mostly to big industrial projects, wind farms and hydropower plants in China and India.
Rich countries buy carbon offsets, called carbon emissions reductions (CERs), which are each equivalent to 1 tonne of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
A 10-member panel of U.N. experts oversees the scheme, deciding which projects should qualify.
It is currently scrutinising some controversial industrial gas projects which destroy the potent greenhouse gas HFC-23 over fears that excess CERs were issued to some projects.
Earlier this year, an environmental group claimed that some plants were adjusted to produce more of the gas and then they destroyed it to climate profitable CERs. [ID:nLDE6AI1A3]
The findings of an internal report commissioned by the panel were discussed at a meeting on Wednesday in Cancun, Mexico, ahead of a U.N. climate summit next week.
Almost all members of the panel backed a revision of the method of issuing CERs to HFC-23 projects on Wednesday.
“There is good support for the revision of the methodology which I think is wise,” said Lex de Jonge.
The report said it was possible that excess CERs were issued because emission reductions could have been over-estimated.
“If the methodology overlooks the fact that you can have different production lines inside the same facility and if that leads to a misrepresentation of what a facility is — it could be a potentially serious issue,” said Pedro Martins Barata.
“We should look into that element deeper. Then we can say the CDM did contribute to environmental protection overall,” Lex de Jonge added later in the meeting.
Several panel members also said the report should be published, taking out some elements which might be confidential.
The EU Commission is due on Thursday to publish a proposal to restrict the use of offsets in its emissions trading scheme from such industrial gas projects. [ID:nLDE6AN254] (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Sceptre Group Limited is a specialist investment firm focused in low carbon financial investments such as sustainable biofuel plantations, agricultural farmland and green technologies. For more information on Biofuel Investments, please visit Sceptre Group’s website at www.sceptreinternational.com.