August 22, 2010

Environmentalists Claim UN Board Supporting Scam

A U.N. board that oversees a $2.7 billion market intended to cut heat-trapping gases has agreed to take steps that could lead to reining in what European and U.S. environmentalists call a gigantic scam.

The executive board of the U.N.'s Clean Development Mechanism said that five chemical plants in China do not qualify for funding.

The "CDM" credits have been widely used in the carbon trading markets of the European Union (EU), Japan and other nations that signed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that requires mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases.

Industrialized nations can buy the credits and pay developing countries to cut emissions instead of cut their own carbon emissions.

However, environmentalists say rich nations could be wasting billions of dollars on "perverse financial incentives," because some of the largest funded by the U.N.-managed CDM are money-making opportunities for chemical makers without making meaningful cuts in greenhouse gases.

The CDM executive board has asked for data on the gases from those five plants in China to determine whether the system was manipulated.

The controversy revolves around the conflict between the Kyoto climate treaty and another U.N. treaty, which is known as the 1987 Montreal Protocol for repairing the Earth's fragile ozone layer.

The money brought by the fund goes to help pay the carbon offset credits claimed by over 20 chemical makers mostly in China and India.  However, nations like South Korea, Argentina and Mexico also take part.

The chemical makers are paid $100,000 or more for every ton they destroy of a potent greenhouse gas.  The price for destroying it is based on it being 11,700 times more powerful as a climate-warming gas than carbon dioxide.

"The evidence is overwhelming that manufacturers are creating excess HFC-23 simply to destroy it and earn carbon credits," Mark Roberts of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a research and advocacy group, told The Associated Press. "This is the biggest environmental scandal in history and makes an absolute mockery of international efforts to combat climate change.

The potent greenhouse gas is widely used in hair sprays, air conditioners and some refrigerators due to it being less damaging to the seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica.  It has been promoted under the ozone treaty, which has often been considered one of the world's most successful environmental treaties.


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