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Group tracks carbon credit trading and issues warning

The Canadian activist group Probe International based in Toronto is arguing that the global carbon credit mark...


The Canadian activist group Probe International based in Toronto is arguing that the global carbon credit market is not the environmental panacea it is held out to be and could actually be doing environmental harm.

Carbon credits issued through the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) are a tool for companies or governments in the developed world to offset their carbon emissions by financing “green” projects in the developing world.

In an article entitled, “Who is cashing in on carbon credits?” Probe International objects to the fact that the purchased carbon credits are being used to finance hydropower dams. Probe International has been a consistent vocal opponent of large hydro projects around the world. About 10 years ago, for example, the organization was a strong critic of Canadian engineers involvement in the Three Gorges Dam in China during the project’s early stages.

Now the group is turning its attention to carbon trading. Part of the problem, says Probe International, is that carbon markets are “prone to fraud and organized crime,” pointing out that the U.K. discovered an alleged $60 million fraud involving their trading.

But Probe International has also built up a carbon credits database that lists all the projects around that the globe that have received carbon credits through the U.N.’s clean development mechanism.

The database shows that China has received almost 50 per cent of all the carbon credits issued through the CDM, and that the credits are worth $3.2 billion at current prices.

China has used the funds, Probe International says, to build 47 new dams, and has also received nearly $153-million in carbon credits for wind projects. India has received 20 per cent of all the carbon credits issued through the CDM. “Together India and China have received around 68 per cent of all carbon credits issued through the CDM, and used them to build 70 new dams, more than 100 wind projects and more than $3 billion worth of hydrofuorocarbon-23 (HFC-23)projects — a byproduct in the manufacturing process of HCFC-22, which is a gas used as a refrigerant.”

Probe International is particularly critical of China’s dam-building activities in Africa. The massive Tekeze Dam in Ethiopia, for example has just been completed at $360 million and is the largest of its kind in Africa. The 185-metre high dam, and 300-MW facilities, were developed and built by the state-owned Chinese National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation, or Sinohydro.

The interactive Carbon Credits Database is available at www.probeinternational.org/carbon-credit-welcome