A recent study reveals that Russia and the Ukraine have gamed the system while avoiding any emissions cuts.
According to a BBC report, a new study has revealed that most of the carbon credits generated by Russia and Ukraine did not represent cuts in emissions, but rather may have increased emissions by 600 million tons.
Some projects involved the creation and immediate destruction of chemicals known to warm the climate solely to claim cash.
Countries like Russia and the Ukraine have been allowed to create carbon credits, which they earn from activities like decreasing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they are allowed to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. These credits are then bought by companies that would rather pay for them than make their own emissions cuts.
However, this recent study revealed that no emissions were actually reduced.
An examination of a random sample of 60 projects found that 73% of the offsets generated didn’t meet the key criteria of “additionality,” meaning that these projects would have happened anyway, with or without the carbon credit finance.
Vladyslav Zhezherin, a co-author of the study, claims that “Some early projects were of good quality, but in 2011-2012, numerous projects were registered in Ukraine and Russia which had started long before and were clearly not motivated by carbon credits.”
Most of these offset credits went into the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme. According to the authors of this study, these credits may have undermined EU emissions reduction targets by 400 million tons of carbon dioxide.
Despite this result in Russia and the Ukraine, similar offsetting plans in Poland and Germany were said to meet very strict criteria.
Another co-author, Anja Kollmuss, claimed that “We were surprised ourselves by the extent, we didn’t expect such a large number. What went on was that these countries could approve these projects by themselves there was no international oversight, in particular Russia and the Ukraine didn’t have any incentive to guarantee the quality of these credits.”
The main argument of the authors of the study is that new standards must be applied to any market plans that are incorporated into a new global agreement on climate change.
James Wilde from the Carbon Trust claims that “we need to do better and we can do better, but the devil will be in the detail and tighter controls will be needed. If firms are to invest at scale driven by a price for carbon, they need to know that the schemes setting this price in future will be robust and survive for the lifetime of investments.”