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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The clean development mechanism : strengthening sustainable development? Knechtel, Anya Lise


Climate change is a global challenge that is affecting opportunities for sustainable development, particularly in developing countries where vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change is heightened by factors such as limited access to resources and greater exposure to extreme climate events. However, sustainable development also provides an opportunity to mitigate the impacts of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening people's capacity to deal with its effects. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of three internationally-based mechanisms designated to assist in international efforts to mitigate additional climate change under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The CDM is unique to the Kyoto Protocol in that it is the only mechanism in which developing countries may participate and that has the stated objective of supporting developing countries' efforts to achieve sustainable development. The CDM is designed to pursue this objective by channeling foreign direct investment into sustainable development projects in host developing countries. Therefore, in theory, the CDM provides an opportunity to support efforts to mitigate climate change through sustainable development. This thesis explores how the policies governing the CDM impact its capacity to support sustainable development, and how sustainable development is being operationalized in the context of the CDM . It considers barriers and challenges that project developers are encountering in seeking to implement sustainable development projects under the CDM , and what could be done to assist in overcoming these barriers in order to strengthen the CDM ' s capacity to support sustainable development. This thesis finds that on an operational level the CDM ' s effectiveness in fostering sustainable development has been limited due to a number of institutional, regulatory, and financial barriers. However, it concludes that there are opportunities to overcome the barriers and strengthen the CDM ' s capacity to foster sustainable development, and that the CDM therefore remains a hopeful example of how the issues of climate change and sustainable development can be addressed through a constructive and synergistic approach.

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