Like landfills, oil sands, and “occasional irregularity,” the term Clean Development Mechanism is in the euphemism Hall of Fame. But once a rip-offset, always a rip-offset. Reuters reports:

The U.N. climate change body has suspended one of the largest auditors of clean energy projects under Kyoto Protocol, a move highlighting problems long aired by critics of the climate pact’s greenhouse gas trading scheme.

Norway’s DNV had their accreditation as project auditors suspended late last week for five “non-conformities” relating to its practices, the U.N. said after performing a spot check of the company’s operations in early November.

Speaking of euphemisms, if George Carlin were still alive I’m sure he’d add “non-conformities” to his famous list. DNV wasn’t fraudulent or incompetent. No. It’s just a misunderstood nonconformist. Fortunately, DNV isn’t a big player or central to the entire CDM process.

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DNV is a major player in the $13 billion CDM market, having validated close to half of the projects registered by the U.N.

D’oh. Well, at least the non-conformities weren’t in areas central to CDM credibility, like, say project auditing and verification would be.

DNV said the non-conformities related to project auditing and verification procedures.

Never mind.

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Seriously folks, let’s remember that the West got suckered into giving China some $6 billion to destroy greenhouse gas refrigerants that probably cost Chinese companies $100 million to capture and destroy. Let’s remember that a major 2008 analysis from Stanford found:

“between a third and two thirds” of emission offsets under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) — set up under the Kyoto treaty to encourage emissions reductions in developing nations — do not represent actual emission cuts.

Let’s remember:

U.N. regulators are also concerned that some independent auditors of these projects, who are responsible for vetting their environmental legitimacy, have been letting project developers push through ventures of questionable environmental value …

In a presentation to U.N. officials last fall, the head of Tüv Süd’s carbon business told U.N. officials that the quality of projects the auditors are receiving from carbon brokers is “going down,” according to the U.N. panel’s Mr. Schmidt, who was at the meeting …

“There is a high incentive” for companies to put together environmentally questionable carbon-credit projects, “because there is a lot of money that can be earned,” he said. “People are getting more inventive, so it’s getting harder to detect the black sheep.”

Let’s remember that instead of using the money to fund the transition to a sustainable economy, the World Bank “has loaned $1.5 billion to fossil-fuel companies to make minor greenhouse-gas reductions,” and “then sells carbon credits for those reductions,” and “takes its 13 percent cut”?

Let’s remember that “The vast majority of schemes that sell carbon credits to offset pollution are delivering 30 percent less than they promise“?

But here’s some news that will warm your heart if you are a hard-core (i.e. Lehman- or Enron-loving) capitalist:

A DNV spokeswoman said the company had not lost any clients as a result of the suspension, and would carry on as usual with project validation and verification work.

“We assume that we’ll be back in business in January,” the spokeswoman said. “We will be very quick in closing these non-conformities.”

Thank goodness.

We wouldn’t want to take this opportunity to reconsider the whole CDM business in the light of evidence that suggests we have run out of friggin’ time to pay other countries to do questionable rip-offset projects while the West keeps running fossil-fuel plants.

Heck, it’s not like fossil carbon dioxide emissions have a mean atmospheric lifetime of 30,000 years while CDM rip-offset projects last a few decades if we’re lucky, and they aren’t just purely fraudulent.

Or maybe it is. Enough!

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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