What Is “Clean Development” ?

The idea behind “clean development” is simple : promoting the clean development of developing countries so that they don’t make the same dirty development mistakes that the developed countries did when they were developing.

So, let the developing countries develop, but avoid the dirty part. Instead of burning Coal to make electricity, let them burn Natural Gas, or BioMethane (poo power); or let them make wind turbines, and hydropower dams and efficient biomass stoves.

There was to be a fund to finance Clean Development Mechanism projects, and it was supposed to be aimed at developing countries.

However, the negotiations around the CDM have taken more than one twist. Today, discussions were held about whether to permit Carbon Capture and Storage technologies to be included as “clean development”.

This would include “clean coal” projects, which would only be done in countries already burning coal to make power : China and India, for example, countries already sufficiently developed to have coal-fired power generation.

Carbon Capture and Storage would also be claimed for what is known as Enhanced Oil Recovery – pumping Carbon Dioxide into failing oil wells to increase production.

That would be relevant in, say, Saudi Arabia, the North Sea and just about any developed nation’s oil industry, and benefit the foreign companies operating in under-developed or war-de-developed nations such as Nigeria and Iraq.

Would “clean coal” projects in North America or Europe count under the Clean Development Mechanism ? Quite possibly.

Can you see the “mission creep” here ?

“Clean Development” was supposed to be about helping developing nations avoid the dirty development paths of the now developed nations.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a set of technologies proposed for already developed nations (or the high technology corporations operating in developing nations).

It strays very much outside the original scope of the idea.

The news this evening is that a decision to put CCS in the CDM has been put on hold, pending further negotiations :-

http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=3011

“Carbon capture is put on hold : As some countries have reservations on carbon capture and storage (CCS) the emerging technology will not be added to the UN-backed carbon reducing mechanisms here in Copenhagen. : Morten Andersen 15/12/2009 22:15 : Capturing carbon dioxide at coal-fired power plants in order to store in it the ground will not become a measure supported by the UN-backed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) this year. A committee under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has discussed the issue, but delayed any decisions for summits to come…”

This is really helpful, as it allows time for the CCS technologies to be further developed and tested, and prove way too expensive and energy-hogging… It also allows time for developing nations to build their case against its inclusion in the CDM.

For more on the negotations on the Clean Development Mechanism, listen in to the Climate Radio reports from Copenhagen, daily :-

http://climateradio.org/copenhagen-daily-7/

More on the notion of including Carbon Capture and Storage in the Clean Development Mechanism :-

http://cdm.unfccc.int/about/ccs/index.html

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