UNITED NATIONS – An obscure UN board that oversees a $2.7 billion market intended to cut heat-trapping gases has agreed to take steps that could lead to it eventually reining in what European and US environmentalists are calling a huge scam.
At a meeting this week that ended Friday, the executive board of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism said that five chemical plants in China would no longer qualify for funding as so-called carbon offset credits until the environmentalists' claims can be further investigated.
The "CDM" credits have been widely used in the carbon trading markets of the European Union, Japan and other nations that signed onto the 1997 Kyoto Protocol requiring mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases.
Rather than cut their own carbon emissions, industrialized nations can buy the credits which then pay developing countries to cut their greenhouse gases instead.
But environmentalists say rich nations could be wasting billions of dollars on what some are calling "perverse financial incentives," because some of the largest projects funded by the UN-managed CDM are a golden goose for chemical makers without making meaningful cuts in emissions.