UN Targets China’s Wind Farms

Photo by dcmaster under Creative Commons

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The Clean Development Mechanism, a UN body which helps industrial countries like China cut emissions by paying undeveloped countries to cut their emissions instead, has saved the Chinese government millions of dollars. But many environmentalists worry that China’s renewable energy projects, particularly its wind farms, do not fulfill the CDM’s “additionality” requirements. In other words, they could be receiving foreign funds for projects that would have been built anyway. Responding to these concerns, the CDM has suspended some Chinese wind farms until it can be proven that they meet additionality requirements. 

Officials in China were predictably opposed to the decision:

CDM officials raised questions after Beijing cut prices that utilities would be required to pay for wind power, said Lin Wei, general manager of Easy Carbon Consultancy Co. in Beijing, a consultant for CDM projects. Such a price cut might make projects appear to need more foreign financing by reducing their revenues.

“They thought the government believed CDM money would be coming in anyway so the government was making prices lower so that Chinese projects could have extra ‘additionality’ to get extra funding,” Lin said.

However, Wang and Lin said the price cuts reflect lower costs for wind projects as technology improves.

“Of course we don’t agree” with the CDM board, Wang said. “They totally know nothing about the real situation in China’s wind power (industry).” (emphasis mine)

In the current issue of Mother Jones, Mark Schapiro writes about CDM’s potential for manipulation by developed countries and international corporations, and a carbon sink dilemma in Brazil that has displaced the region’s indigenous population. Heading into the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the UN’s decision to crack down on China’s wind farms could signal heightened accountability for the CDM and carbon sinks. But will it only make China a more difficult bargaining partner?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest