Net climate change mitigation of the Clean Development Mechanism

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has allowed industrialized countries to buy credits from developing countries for the purpose of meeting targets under the Kyoto Protocol. In principle, the CDM simply shifts the location of emission reductions, with no net mitigation impact. This article explores the extent to which the CDM may or may not already lead to a “net decrease” in global emissions. It finds that the CDM׳s net mitigation impact hinges on the additionality of large-scale power projects. If these projects are truly additional and continue to operate well beyond the credit issuance period, they will decrease global greenhouse gas emissions. However, if they are mostly non-additional, as research suggests, they could increase global greenhouse gas emissions.