New office aims to expand CDM projects in Africa

by Jon Christianson | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 18 October 2012 10:45 GMT

Togo-based centre will help build capacity for African nations to take advantage of the Clean Development Mechanism, the UNFCCC says

LONDON (AlertNet) — A new Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) office has been established in Lomé, Togo, to promote environmentally clean development within the region, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The CDM, a Kyoto Protocol-forged program aimed to direct investment and technology from industrialized countries to developing countries, collaborated with Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD) to create the Togo office. The new CDM office is designed to help Africa, a region that has not proportionately received much benefit from the Clean Development Mechanism, launch more CDM projects.

The CDM program rewards governments and organizations who invest in developing countries’ clean energy projects with carbon credits, which can be sold.

Not all developing countries, however, have been able to benefit from this program. Irini Roumboglou, a UNFCCC spokeswoman, cites both an “institutional lack of understanding of how government could be involved” and a “lack of infrastructure” as obstacles to many developing countries putting forward CDM proposals.

According to Roumboglou, only 2 percent of CDM projects have occurred in Africa, the site of the new office. China and India, on the other hand, comprise 51 percent and 19 percent of projects, respectively.

African countries, in particular, are often seen as high risk by investors, another reason relatively few projects have been funded there, Romboglou said.

Recently, however, there has been an increase in Africa-based CDM projects. “We’ve seen a trend of programs getting registered in Africa more than what used to be,” she said.

The new office aims to remedy the disparity by creating improved capacity to propose and carry out CDM projects.

“The field offices will enhance capacity building and provide hands-on support to CDM project developers, thereby reducing the risk for investors in such projects,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, in a press release. “By building their capacity, underrepresented countries will be able to attract a wider range of investors and thus start benefiting from this important mechanism.”

The new office opens months before the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire, potentially threatening continuation of the CDM project. A second Kyoto Protocol commitment period would begin in January and continue until the end of 2017, but is still being negotiated.

Roumboglou said there are also plans to open more CDM offices to expand investment capacity in other less represented regions. “At the moment, we only know that there will be some centers in Asia and Latin America,” she said. She was unable to comment on exact locations since the UNFCCC is still in discussions, she said.

Jon Christianson is an AlertNet Climate intern.

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