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UN-backed emission cutting scheme backfires, adds millions of tons of CO2 to the air, report says

Environmental integrity concerns in Russia and Ukraine set back Kyoto Protocol Joint Implementation program

STOCKHOLM—The Joint Implementation mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol was designed to allow developing countries with an emission reduction commitment to earn credits that can be transferred for use in another country. As of March, 2015 approximately 872 million Emission Reduction Units, or ERUs had been issued. According to a new Stockholm Environment Institute report, however, the JI program has resulted in higher emissions as opposed to lower.

“The use of JI may have enabled global greenhouse gas emissions to be about 600 million tones of CO2 higher than they would have otherwise been,” the report says.

The problem lies in the integrity of the credits issued in Russia and Ukraine, researchers found. The SEI said there were significant environmental integrity concerns surrounding 80 per cent of the claims made in the two eastern European countries.

Meanwhile, Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Germany accounted for 94 per cent of all credits issued. The report also noted environmental integrity was rated as high for 70 per cent in Poland and 97 per cent in Germany.

“A key finding of our analysis is that crediting mechanisms need to be very carefully designed to ensure environmental integrity,” the report says.

Researchers said in future of future systems, designers need to ensure only internationally accepted methodologies are eligible for use, that auditors should be fully accountable for all their activities to the authority regulating the mechanism and retroactive crediting should not be allowed.

Though the report centres on Europe, its findings hold particular significance for Canadian provinces researching how to implement carbon taxes or cap and trade programs. Ontario, for instance, said earlier this year it would look to enter the cap and trade agreement between California and Quebec, and most Canadian provinces are investigating GHG emissions regulations in some capacity as well. The importance of designing a system built on integrity and meaningful carbon emission targets has never been more clear.

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