The hydroelectric dam, a low wall of concrete slicing across an old farming valley, is supposed to help a power company in distant Germany contribute to saving the climate — while putting lucrative "carbon credits" into the pockets of Chinese developers.
But in the end the new Xiaoxi dam may do nothing to lower global-warming emissions as advertised. And many of the 7,500 people displaced by the project still seethe over losing their homes and farmland...
Similar stories are repeated across China and elsewhere around the world, as hundreds of hydro projects line up for carbon credits, at a potential cost of billions to Europeans, Japanese and soon perhaps Americans, in a trading system a new U.S. government review concludes has "uncertain effects" on greenhouse-gas emissions.
One American expert is more blunt.
"The CDM" — the 4-year-old, U.N.-managed Clean Development Mechanism — "is an excessive subsidy that represents a massive waste of developed world resources," says Stanford University's Michael Wara...
Rather than reduce their own emissions, "firms in developed countries are buying offsets that don't represent real behavioral change, real reductions in emissions," said Wara, the environmental law professor.
The U.S. GAO investigators said they learned that middlemen sometimes manipulate project paperwork to show a need for CDM financing, and they believe "a substantial number" of projects have undeservedly received credits.
I'm shocked--shocked!--that the UN could be involved in something like this.