Improving or Disproving Sustainable Development in the Clean Development Mechanism in the Midst of a Financial Crisis?


Angus Macdonald
LLM student
The School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS)
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom


The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol is a dual purpose mechanism aiming to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable development. However the CDM, as a market mechanism, seems incapable of fulfilling this latter purpose. Bui lding on the dichotomy between market liberalism and sustainable development as identified by D.M. Driesen, this paper argues that the CDM has become a schizophrenic mechanism trying to achieve two mutually exclusive aims. The paper discusses options for improving sustainable development in the CDM, but concludes these options are either impractical or impossible to pursue. The 'development dividend' (as per A. Cosbey, et al) is likely to forever be in arrears. The CDM should explicitly acknowledge its sustainable development failings. This brings into question the CDM's very existence.

The paper also comments on the effect the financial crisis might have on the carbon market, so crucial for the CDM. The article suggests that the financial crisis will make it even more difficult for the CDM to pursue its sustainable development aim.


Carbon market, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), CDM projects, developing countries, economic crisis, financial crisis, flexibility mechanisms, market liberalism, sustainable development.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893