2007a:11). It is not difcult to see why the CDM is viewed
by policymakers as critical to EU climate policy. To stand amodest chance of not exceeding the +2 °C threshold, the EUnow has a window of less than ten years in which to beginsubstantial, year-on-year reductions in greenhouse gas emis-sions (Bows et al., 2006a). Avoiding exceedance of +2 °C re-quires a maximum global atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450ppmv (parts per million by volume), preferably 400ppmvCO2. Avoiding a breach of 450ppmv CO2 in turn requiresaround 3% - 6% annual reductions in total EU CO2 emissionsover the period 2012-2030 (Bows et al, 2007). Note that anatmospheric concentration of 450ppmv CO2 would not guar-antee that we would avoid overshooting the 2 °C target. To be sure of not exceeding this level of temperature increase,atmospheric concentrations need to be below current levels(Meinshausen, 2006).The EC +2 °C threshold allows industrialised nations very littlegrowth in carbon emissions prior to barely feasible contraction
rates (Anderson and Bows, 2008). Whilst signicant global
aviation growth is possible in this context, it would seem un-likely that citizens would choose to prioritise the sector if theywere faced with starker choices, as would be necessary with-out the CDM or adequately early action within industrialisednations. Exploring 450ppmv CO2 scenarios for the UK, Bowset al (2006) found it necessary to allocate the contracting car- bon budget to those sectors with the fewest options for change, particularly aviation. Although they found that both static andhigh mobility scenarios are possible, (the latter assuming thatUK individuals travel twice as many passenger kilometres byroad and railin 2050, andthree timesmore passen-ger kilome-tres by air by2050, relativeto 2004), bothscenarios re-quire rapid de-carbonisation by every other sector. More-over, air pas-senger growthrates wouldneed to fallfrom the re-cent UK levelof 7% per an-num to a maxi-mum annualaverage of justover 2%, and not exceed this. In addition, the aviation indus-
try would need to improve fuel efciency above current rates,signicantly increase its load factor and would need to have
switched to 50% biofuel by 2050 (ibid: 56).
CDM Sleight of Hand?
Rather than deal with the domestic political difculties of taking full responsibility for our emissions, difculties com
- pounded through years of ignoring the problem, there is agrowing likelihood that Commissioners will opt to make sig-
nicant use of the CDM. This will enable the EU to simul
-taneously retain a stringent climate target and industrial and political support. In other words, with the current weak levelof support for meaningful action to reduce carbon emissions(rhetoric and good intentions aside), trade-out of EU ETS will be critical to the economic, commercial and hence politicalacceptability of the proposed Directive to bring aviation intoEU ETS.The key question this begs is whether extensive use of JointImplementation and CDM will undermine a genuine globaltransition to a low carbon future. This could happen in twomain ways. First, unless trade-out is accompanied by a real
commitment to strong and mandatory fuel efciency and re
-newable/low carbon energy targets, the pressure for a shift
to low carbon supply, more efcient technologies and behav
-ioural changes will be limited. Phase 2 of the EU ETS allowsfor 13% of total emissions to be met from the CDM, morethan double the 6% reduction in the cap from 2005 emissions.
EU Directive 2008/101/EC limits the use of Certied Emis
-sions Reductions (CERs, i.e. the tradable emissions creditsgenerated via CDM projects) to 15% of the emissions liabilityof each aircraft operator. However, this does not alone restrict
the total inux of CERs, as other industries may use their
maximum CER limit whilst selling on surplus EUAs (EU Al-lowances, the tradable credits allocated by governments under EU ETS) to airlines.
A large inux of external credits will likely weaken the carbon
price and hence impact of the EU ETS (already, for different
reasons, the price has fallen to a very low level, currently 8
euros/tonne).Second, evenassuming thatmost CDM/JI projects areof high envi-ronmental andsocial qual-ity (which hasnot always been the casefor the CDM),there will beeconomicmultiplier ef-fects in thehost countriesthat reduce,and may eveneliminate, thedirect equiva-lence with EUemissions.That is to say, investments overseas will – hopefully – raisestandards of living. Yet this will also stimulate demand for consumer goods and lifestyles and it is inevitable that thesewill be fuelled in part by carbon-based energy sources. Devel-
opment benets could be real but climate policy benets less
than expected, or even negative (i.e. the volume of CO2 offsetcould be wholly negated, or worse, via economic multiplier effects, even if there is improvement relative to the baselinewithin a single project). Low carbon technology transfer iscertainly desirable, but only if accompanied by similar do-mestic change, not if used as a substitute for that change.
A NASA satellite image showing a stream of aircraft contrails between the United Kingdom and France in Europe. Source: NASA Earth Observatory at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov