Carbon markets can take different forms, but one increasingly popular type of market – the so-called “baseline and credit” market – is used by countries and companies to purchase carbon offsets, which allow them to claim emission reductions even if they have not achieved these through their own actions. A multitude of emission reduction projects have been implemented across the world to generate such carbon offsets, and regulations were adopted at the UNFCCC through the Kyoto Protocol but are currently being replaced by rules being negotiated under the Paris Agreement. 2021 marks the start of a new era for carbon markets, as new international rules will govern their use.
Paryavaran Mitra in association with Carbon Market Watch organized a webinar on the Role of international carbon markets in India on the 5thof August 2020. Members of civil society organizations, academic institutes, policy institutes, researchers and other interested stakeholders participated in the webinar. Carbon Market Watch’s Policy Officer, Gilles Dufrasne, started by sharing insights on the international dynamics of carbon markets. This was followed by a short video explaining the various steps which carbon market projects must follow before and during implementation. Participants then asked questions to clarify remaining doubts about the role of carbon markets and their potential contribution to sustainable development. Representatives of Paryavaran Mitra Mahesh Pandya and Falguni Joshi then discussed the “Role of international markets in India”, focusing on selected case studies. Andrew Coiley of Carbon market Watch moderated the open session and interesting discussions took place on the basis of questions from participants.
Past experiences with carbon market projects from different mechanisms have given us a chance to learn more, and stay alert to prevent that projects harm local communities or the environment. Civil society organizations must support local people in this work.
However, negotiations to agree on rules to govern international carbon markets have until now failed, and uncertainty remains as to whether or not countries will be able to agree on such rules by the next UN climate conference (COP26), scheduled to take place in November 2021.
In the absence of rules, international trades will still take place, and civil society monitoring will be particularly important. Until now, markets have failed to truly reduce emissions, and existing offsetting mechanisms are riddled with loopholes.
Currently, carbon markets are not trustworthy. A strong grievance mechanism and improved rules to stimulate public participation are needed as a precondition for these systems to work.
Recording of webinar is available here