Promoting sustainable development in Brazil: the role of the Clean Development Mechanism

Julie Cammell

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The international trade of carbon permits through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was envisaged to have dual functions. First, the CDM was proposed as a way of funding sustainable development in, and increasing technology transfer to, developing countries party to the Kyoto Protocol. Secondly, the CDM was seen as a means of achieving a greater reduction in
global greenhouse emissions through enabling more cost-effective reductions to be made by Annex I countries than they could make domestically, through the trade of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs). This thesis examines the effectiveness of the CDM in promoting sustainable development by analysing the carbon trading relationship between Brazil and the European Union (EU), using the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (UK) as case studies.
Brazil is the third largest host of CDM projects, by project number and by generation of CERs, behind China and India. The largest buyer of CERs, both worldwide and from Brazil, is the EU, and the UK and the Netherlands constitute much of the EU’s demand for CERs. This thesis examines whether investment in Brazilian CDM projects by the UK and the Netherlands is promoting sustainable development in Brazil. Three different sustainable development assessment methods are applied to CDM projects registered in Brazil prior to May 2011. The first method uses the Brazilian Designated National Authority’s (DNA) definition and assessment of the sustainable development contribution of CDM projects. The second method incorporates the sustainable development priorities of Brazil as identified through Brazil’s Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals and by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics). The third method uses a multicriteria assessment to quantitatively score projects based on their claims to contribute to sustainable development. As well as an overall assessment of the promotion of sustainable development objectives, an assessment based on project type and project scale is also presented. This research demonstrates that the contribution of the CDM to sustainable development is limited by a lack of incentive within the CDM processes and market to promote meaningful sustainable development. There is a lack of demand for CERs generated from projects that claim higher levels of sustainable development, and very little regulation of the sustainable development objectives of the CDM. This research finds that, while the results of an assessment of the contribution of the CDM to sustainable development depend largely on the definition of sustainable development and the choice of indicators used in the assessment, the overall contribution of the CDM to sustainable development in Brazil is limited, particularly by the lack of value for projects claiming higher levels of sustainable development, and by the lack of involvement of local communities in choosing CDM projects and in monitoring project outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


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