The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School and the African Center for Development Law and Policy (ACDLP), with the support of the GE Foundation, held a two-day workshop on the global carbon markets in Accra, Ghana, on Friday 24th June and Saturday 25th June , 2011. The workshop, entitled Tapping Unused Potential for Sustainable Development: The Clean Development Mechanism and Ghana, gathered key players in Ghanaian government, industry, academia and the private and civil sectors to discuss the successes and challenges facing carbon finance in Ghana.
The international climate change regime centers around the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a framework treaty, the Convention sets out principles and general commitments, leaving more specific obligations for future instruments. The first and only agreement under the Convention to date, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, introduced concrete targets and timetables, calling for a 5% reduction compared to 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2012. Under the Protocol, every developed country receives an individual emission reduction target. To allow for and, indeed, encourage voluntary developing country emission reductions, however, the Protocol includes the clean development mechanism (CDM) among the three flexible market mechanisms it introduced to increase flexibility and efficiency in meeting the Protocol’s emissions targets. The CDM enables developed countries to fund emissions-reducing projects in developing countries and then apply the avoided emissions to their own reduction commitments. A second mechanism, joint implementation, is similar to CDM and allows developed countries to finance emissions-reduction projects amongst themselves. Lastly, the emissions trading mechanism authorizes the sale and purchase of emission reduction credits between parties. Taken together, these three mechanisms set out the conditions for the creation of a global carbon market.
The CDM promised great benefits for developing country hosts: foreign investment, job creation, technology transfer, and clean sustainable development. In practice, however, CDM investment has been highly partial and geographically limited: Over 75% of CDM projects underway are in China, India, Mexico and Brazil, alone, with Asia and Latin America hosting over 97% of projects worldwide, and the entire African continent a mere 2.0%. Looking ahead, new carbon markets and mechanisms are emerging, so it will be useful for African governments to look critically at the challenges faced in attracting CDM projects, and learn from those experiences to maximize opportunities under new and existing mechanisms going forward.
With this goal in mind, the Leitner Center is partnering with the African Center for Development Law and Policy’s (ACDLP), Accra, Ghana, on a new capacity-building project to study the CDM experience of Ghana, a well-established democracy and emerging regional power in West Africa with solid investment appeal and a strong desire for sustainable development which, like so many other African nations, nonetheless, finds itself in a zone of CDM neglect. With a generous grant of $75,000 from the GE Foundation, the Growing Green through the Rule of Law: Building for Carbon Markets in Africa project aims to identify obstacles and opportunities for the carbon trade in Africa. The Tapping Unused Potential for Sustainable Development: The Clean Development Mechanism and Ghana workshop was the project’s first event and very well received and attended.
Reflecting the strong interest in carbon markets in Ghana, nearly sixty members of Ghanaian government, industry, academia and civil society packed our oversubscribed event, which was held at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and opened by a representative of the Ghana Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology. Throughout the two days’ presentations and plenary sessions, participants candidly discussed the lack of investment in carbon mitigation projects in Ghana, thus far; the ways in which current efforts to attract carbon finance could be capitalized upon and expanded; and the possibilities for joint efforts to coordinate and facilitate project development in the future. Participants also examined the various voluntary and compulsory carbon markets in Europe, the US and Asia; as well as the implications of the ongoing international negotiations on the next generation of carbon finance mechanisms, specifically Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).
Looking ahead, the workshop yielded general agreement on the need for continued efforts to build and strengthen institutional and human capacity on carbon markets in Ghana. To this end, the Growing Green research team is engaged in comparative study of carbon markets, projects and policies around the world, and planning is now underway for a follow-up training on carbon markets, to be held in Accra in August. The Leitner Center and ACDLP are also cooperating on the development of a new website for the project, with a dedicated carbon markets resource library to compliment and expand upon project events.
To view the conference program, please click here.
For photos from the workshop, please visit the Leitner Center’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LeitnerCenter.