Unsavoury emissions

Updated: Nov 14 2005, 05:30am hrs
The accusation that companies and consultants in India are making a mockery of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under the Kyoto Protocol needs to be probed. The charge, made by the Delhi-based environmental organisation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has been denied by the companies concerned. The Protocol commits industrialised signatory nations to reducing emissions of six greenhouse gases to a set target by 2012. These targets have been passed on to companies, who also may opt to invest in a project in a developing country to reduce emission by a greater degree than would happen in the normal course: this is cheaper than doing so at home. The carbon saved, if certified, can be claimed by the companys country as its own reduction. India has the largest number (over 50) of CDM projects approved in the world since the Protocol took effect two years ago. But companies are not using environment-friendly technology, consultants preparing the project design documents are doing a sham job and the entire CDM design invites corruption, says CSE.

CSEs accusation goes well beyond corporates. Indias nine-member National CDM Authority consists of seven Union government secretaries (the environment secretary chairs it) and two other senior officials. They approve each project, which has to then be independently validated by an approved agencyno Indian organisation has yet got the authority to do soand then registered with the CDM executive board, based in Germany. If what CSE says is correct, all of them, including top Indian government officials, have been sleeping on the job, or worse.

Given the fact that the official website, on Wednesday, listed a May 11, 2005, meeting of the National CDM Authority as a coming event and the frequently-asked-questions icon drew a blank when clicked, the environment ministry is a lot more sluggish on its CDM responsibility than it should be. We need an approvals-and-certification process which inspires trust and isnt just another exercise in spending much to achieve little. It is for the government to show its system is efficient and accountable.