By Christopher Booker
The Clean Development Mechanism delivers the greatest green scam of all
Even the UN and the EU are wising up to the greenhouse gas scam, “the biggest environmental scandal in history”, says Christopher Booker.
It is now six months since I reported on what even environmentalists are calling “the biggest environmental scandal in history”. Indeed this is a scam so glaringly bizarre that even the UN and the EU have belatedly announced that they are thinking of taking steps to stop it. The essence of the scam is that a handful of Chinese and Indian firms are deliberately producing large quantities of an incredibly powerful “greenhouse gas” which we in the West – including UK taxpayers – then pay them billions of dollars to destroy.
The key to this scam, designed to curb global warming, is a scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and administered by the UN. It enables firms and governments in the developed world to buy “credits” which allow them to continue emitting greenhouse gases. These are sold to them, through well-rewarded brokers, from firms in developing countries that can show they have nominally reduced their emissions.
Easily the largest and most lucrative component in the CDM market is a peculiar racket centred on the manufacture of CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons, classified under Kyoto as greenhouse gases vastly more damaging than carbon dioxide. The way the racket works is that Chinese and Indian firms are permitted to carry on producing a refrigerant gas known as HCF-22 until 2030. But a by-product of this process is HCF-23, which is supposed to be 11,700 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. By destroying the HCF-23, the firms can claim Certified Emission Reduction credits worth billions of dollars when sold to the West (while much of the useful HCF-22 is sold onto the international black market).
Last year, destruction of CFCs accounted for more than half the CDM credits issued, in a market that will eventually, it is estimated, be worth $17 billion. Of the 1,390 CDM projects so far approved, less than 1 per cent accounts for 36 per cent of the total value.
Even greenies have become so outraged by this ridiculous racket that the Environmental Investigation Agency has described it as the “biggest environment scandal in history”. Two weeks ago the UN announced that it is suspending payments to five Chinese firms pending an investigation, with a view to a major reform of the system. Last week the EU’c climate change supremo, Connie Hedegaard, said she would be asking her officials to prepare a proposal whereby these particular CFC payments might be halted after 2013.
The CDM system itself, however, will still be in place, and we will all contribute through its chief source of revenue, the EU’s $100-billion-a-year Emissions Trade Scheme (which we pay for in various ways, not least through our electricity bills). We here in Britain also have the special privilege of knowing, as I reported in February, that we are now chipping in £60 million to buy additional CDM credits through our taxes – so that the politicians and civil servants in government offices can keep warm by continuing to pump out emissions much as before.