EDF Talks Global Climate

Second California-Quebec-Ontario carbon auction sells out, showing market’s strength

 

https://www.pexels.com/photo/golden-gate-bridge-san-francisco-61111/

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. Photo by Juan Salamanca. 

The second California-Quebec-Ontario joint greenhouse gas allowance auction has sold all current allowances, just like the inaugural tripartite auction in February 2018. There was again strong demand for future allowances, all indicating that despite political and regulatory uncertainty from a key partner, Ontario, the market is on solid ground.

May auction at-a-glance:

  • All 90,587,738 current and previously-unsold allowances sold, clearing at $14.65, which is 12 cents above the $14.53 price floor. This is slightly higher than the February settlement price.
  • 6,057,000 of the 12,427,950 future vintage allowances offered sold at the floor price. This is 2,519,000 million less than sold at the February auction. The decrease is likely due to ongoing uncertainty in Ontario, but as these allowances are not available for use until 2021, it is still an indicator of confidence in the Western Climate Initiative market down the road.
  • An estimated $681,051,270 was raised for California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to continue funding climate and equity priorities like urban greening, electric vehicle infrastructure, and affordable housing near public transit.
  • Ontario raised approximately $369,271,300 USD for funding public transit, electric vehicle incentives and energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Quebec raised approximately $151,353,660 USD to support the province’s transition to a green economy.

These results are encouraging because they show that despite ongoing political uncertainty in Ontario, the market is strong and stable. They also show the benefits of linkage to a larger market are real. All three linked jurisdictions have access to more trading partners through the Western Climate Initiative, which creates opportunities for even greater climate ambition. This kind of international cooperation shows that jurisdictions can have an outsized influence on global climate action, particularly at a time when federal leadership from the United States on climate is lacking.

Previously unsold allowances
The role of previously unsold allowances could also be impacting today’s auction results in two ways.

First, this is the third auction where held, or previously unsold allowances were offered for sale. These allowances increase the number of available allowances in the auction, which may contribute to keeping the price near the floor. This demonstrates the importance of that price floor. It is a central feature of the program that ensures stability of the market and the revenues.

Second, back in July 2017 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the so-called “24 Month Rule.” This establishes that any state-owned allowances that remain unsold for 24 months are either moved to the Allowance Price Containment Reserve (APCR) or retired. This has the effect of tightening the cap either temporarily (if prices were to unexpectedly jump) or permanently. The first significant retirement of allowances could happen after the August auction, so companies could be buying now in anticipation of decreased supply later.

Looking Forward
CARB is in the process of drafting a regulatory update for the cap-and-trade program post-2020. The program has been successful at reducing emissions, as demonstrated by current emissions being below the cap, even as California has grown to the fifth largest economy in the world. This emissions trend provides an important opportunity for California to continue driving increased ambition by setting a tighter post-2020 emissions cap, and continue showing that ambitious climate action can go hand-in-hand with strong economic growth.

Of course the biggest question in the linked carbon market right now is Ontario, which is having elections in June. Although two of the leading parties want to preserve the program, one party wants to end it, but would need to overcome a mountain of legal hurdles. The outcome of the June election could set up either increased confidence in the future of cap-and-trade in Ontario or lingering questions. But the results for both current and future vintage in this auction indicate that confidence is steady, and the California-Quebec-Ontario market remains a world leader in driving climate action.

Posted in California, Carbon Market Cooperation, Emissions trading & markets / Leave a comment

Sowing the seeds of a roadmap for agriculture

Photo credit Dr Huynh Quang Tin

Low carbon rice production in Vietnam. Dr Huynh Quang Tin

At last November’s COP23 in Germany, Parties involved in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations on agriculture celebrated a notable victory after agreeing to create the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA). The KJWA marks a shift in focus from agricultural adaptation activities only, to a broader discussion of mitigation related activities. While COP23 Parties did not decide on the details of the KJWA, such as the “how” and the “when,” the outcome generated much needed momentum for the agriculture agenda of the UNFCCC.

In the lead up to the Bonn climate change negotiations that concluded last week, Parties and observers submitted their views on the “what”, “how”, and “when” of the KJWA. The Parties kept a very constructive – and even friendly – discourse in negotiation sessions, building off of last year’s positive COP23 outcome and increasing focus on implementation. The developing country group known as the G&77 + China, building off a New Zealand-led proposal, was very active in coordinating the creation of a roadmap for the KJWA. By the end of the first week, Parties agreed to draft conclusions outlining the roadmap.

Now with the UN secretariat for adoption, this roadmap provides an agenda of activities that includes workshops, topic submissions, and workshop reports every six months between now and the end of 2020. The series of workshops will cover the following topics:

  • How to implement the outcomes from the five in-session workshops on adaptation and resiliency held before last year’s COP decision;
  • Methods and approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits, and resilience;
  • Improved soil carbon, soil health, and soil fertility under grassland and cropland as well as integrated systems, including water management;
  • Improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems;
  • Improved livestock management systems, including agropastoral production systems and others; and
  • Socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agriculture sector.

Submissions on topics for each workshop will be solicited prior to each session, followed by the preparation of a report after each workshop.

The first activity on the roadmap—submissions on implementing the outcomes of the five in-session workshops on adaptation and resiliency—is due on October 22, 2018. Considering that Parties in Bonn solicited external inputs for current and future discussions, organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund have the opportunity to help advance the KJWA roadmap. By providing technical assistance, content, and process inputs, EDF and other organizations will support the work of Parties under the KJWA and maintain momentum. It is imperative to use this time to determine what issues to focus on during this series of workshops and how to operationalize the outcomes.

As reflected by the nature of the KJWA itself, shifting focus to implementation and tangible actions to help actors in the agriculture sector respond to climate change is essential if we are to meet the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.

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Cocoa partnerships: How collaboration helps the Arhuacos of Colombia conserve the forest and improve economic opportunity

Women from the Arhuaco indigenous nation of Colombia prepare to process cocoa produced for sustainable chocolate company Original Beans. Photo by Original Beans

This post was co-authored by Chris Meyer, Senior Manager of Amazon Forest Policy at EDF, and Sybelle VanAntwerp, Community Economic Development Volunteer serving with the Peace Corps in Colombia. It originally appeared on peacecorps.gov. En español.

The story behind Dutch chocolate company Original Beans’ Arhuaco Businchari chocolate bar begins in the tropical forest covered Sierra Nevada region of Colombia, on the Caribbean coast in the northern reaches of South America. That is where the indigenous Arhuaco nation has been able to cultivate, harvest, and sell cocoa successfully for the past two years, improving the economic opportunities for their communities while conserving the precious forest around them.

This past March, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) organized a workshop in Bogotá that provided the Arhuaco community a platform for knowledge sharing. It also sponsored a visit by a cocoa buyer. This fruitful collaboration was made possible with the help of the US government’s Peace Corps program and EcoDecision’s Canopy Bridge, with USAID funding. It’s an example that shows how collaboration is key to conserving the remaining tropical forests and supporting indigenous peoples to develop alternative economic activities that align with their cultural values. For the Arhuacos, the collaboration is already generating results and they are sharing their experience with entrepreneurial indigenous groups throughout the country.

The buyer visit, a key element of this collaboration, took place at the Arhuaco cocoa processing center just outside of Santa Marta, Magdalena. Jan Schubert, from Original Beans, the Arhuacos’ principal European partner, spent almost two weeks in the region promoting community cocoa initiatives. According to Original Beans, the company has a distinctive vision to “replenish what we consume” – focusing on biodiverse agroecosystems, reforestation, sustainable value chains, and community involvement. It is more than just a chocolate company. Currently, Original Beans makes their own Arhuaco Businchari bar, has an exclusive agreement for single-origin couverture with JRE Europe restaurants, and also recently started selling cocoa beans to small-scale chocolate makers through the Original Beans warehouse in Amsterdam.

Schubert explained, “With the Arhuaco community’s Colombian buyer, Cacao de Colombia, Original Beans aims to buy 10 metric tons of cocoa beans during the 2018 harvest, supporting indigenous livelihoods with a stable price more than double the market average.”

Challenges of organic certification

During the visit, Schubert supported several efforts, including working closely with members of the Arhuaco community association ASOARHUACO to plan out the next steps in the organic certification process. This will be crucial in the coming year to increase Arhuaco cocoa’s commercial value and reach a wider market segment in Europe. Although the community’s cocoa production is yet to be certified, Arhuaco producers follow organic cultivation principles aligned with their cultural values. Challenges of geography and communication make organic certification especially difficult. Original Beans used this most recent visit as an opportunity to strategize with association leaders, especially around the organization of baseline GPS information for each producer that will be evaluated by the certification body.

In the remote Arhuaco village of Bunkwimake in the higher altitudes, the vision is to continue developing a nursery that will house native tree species and eventually rescued cacao bunsi, or white cocoa, which is a unique variety that is native to the Sierra Nevada. Original Beans donated materials to construct a nursery and is exploring the possibility of installing an irrigation system, collaborating closely with community leaders and advisors to determine the next steps of support.

A girl from the Arhuaco indigenous nation in Northern Colombia samples a selection of chocolate bars from Original Beans, a sustainable chocolate company that is partnering with the Arhuaco nation on cocoa production. Photo by Original Beans.

Indigenous entrepreneurship

Arhuaco indigenous leaders have begun looking to share their experiences with commercializing cocoa and coffee beyond their community. Arhuaco leaders Francisco Villafaña and Jader Mejía presented their experiences at the Third Macro-Territorial Meeting on Economies for Indigenous Peoples of the Northeastern Amazon in Bogotá. Organized by EDF, the GAIA Amazonas Foundation, and Global Green Growth Institute, the workshop served as a noteworthy moment of capacity building between indigenous communities.

Villafaña and Mejía’s presentation told a success story of indigenous entrepreneurship. They spoke about the development of the value chains of both cocoa and coffee, key partners and aid organizations that have helped them in the process, and overarching successes and challenges. One prominent partner that has helped the community since 2009 is USAID and ANADARKO, through the nonprofit ACDI/VOCA; in addition, the community has received national government support through a UNODC alternative livelihoods program to replace illicit use crops. Villafaña and Mejía demonstrated the Arhuacos’ achievements, which serve as a model for other indigenous groups, including creating their own brands and small batches of chocolate bars and coffee through this financing. For the Arhuaco presenters, the forum was invaluable as they continue to develop the marketing skills necessary for successful business growth. Not only were they able to gain experience with public speaking, but they were also able to network with potential business partners.

In response to the Arhuacos’ presentation, workshop participants highlighted that profit is not always a sufficient incentive to develop an economic activity that is in line with indigenous values. The speakers portrayed profit as a tool and resource, rather than an objective, to achieve loftier goals such as increasing market access or infrastructure, improving food sovereignty, and reclaiming territories. The participants supported the idea that communities need to drive their own projects, instead of being led by outsiders that have less of an understanding or stake in the work within the community. Foreign organizations have a greater impact when they empower community leadership, help strengthen existing structures and create learning opportunities within each process so that participants can become self-sufficient in the long-term.

Narratives such as that of ASOARHUACO might generate new ideas among participants for project proposals; there is a significant call for community-driven projects from the Colombian government through its Indigenous Pillar of the Amazon Vision Program (PIVA). Ultimately, Villafaña and Mejía offered the workshop’s participants a shared perspective relevant to Colombia, stemming from a wealth of common experiences in developing economic opportunities consistent with their indigenous culture.

From Bogotá to Bunkwimake, this collaboration is strengthening the Arhuacos’ efforts to market their products and ultimately drive their own processes. It connects the community members with new experiences, opportunities, and partners that empowers individuals and increases the community’s sense of ownership over its cacao production.

The cacao wager has not been won; the community must continue to insist on its short, medium, and long-term objectives. For this reason, it needs to continue carrying out institutional management and leadership to achieve its dreams of the peace, balance, and health of Mother Nature.

 

Posted in Agriculture, Forestry, Indigenous peoples / Leave a comment

Deforestation-free supply chains: 4 trends to watch

Trees removed from a forest. iStock

Hundreds of companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains by 2020, but the political landscape and market conditions are shifting as the deadline draws nearer. Here are four emerging trends that these companies – as well as the governments and civil society organizations engaging with them to zero out deforestation – should be taking into consideration as 2020 fast approaches.

1. Western companies can’t solve deforestation on their own.

One significantly subscribed-to theory of change for deforestation-free supply chains was that if enough companies set goals and purchase deforestation-free commodities, we will see reductions in deforestation globally. But so far, even with more than 350 companies setting forest-related goals, we are not seeing this transformational change. This is primarily because emerging economies play an increasingly important role in commodity markets. U.S. and European companies do not have enough market leverage to have a widespread impact.

Take beef, for example. Beef accounts for more deforestation annually than all of soy, palm oil, and pulp and paper combined. Western consumers actually eat very little of it. Most beef is consumed domestically in countries like Brazil, while the rest goes to countries where deforestation isn’t a major factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions, like Russia and countries in the Middle East.

Similarly, markets for palm oil, another major driver of deforestation, tend to prioritize price over environmental impact. This is particularly true in China, India and the domestic markets of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Clearly then, a deforestation-free strategy needs to involve non-Western markets and address those supply chains.

2. New approaches that focus on local context and solving governance challenges are gaining traction among supplier companies.

Three new approaches that focus on local context and solving governance challenges are gaining traction among supplier companies. These three initiatives follow what is known as the jurisdictional approach because they focus on engaging actors from the government, private sector, farmer groups, and civil society. With the jurisdictional approach, the private sector works with governments to reduce deforestation and improve productivity in an entire region.

  • Mato Grosso, Brazil’s Produce, Conserve, and Include (PCI) strategy. PCI is one of the pioneering pilots of the jurisdictional approach, and is gaining momentum after finalizing an investment plan and a $54 million commitment to the provincial governments for REDD+. This multi-stakeholder platform aims to work with producer companies to increase production of agriculture and livestock while reducing deforestation, increasing reforestation, and incorporating smallholders and indigenous peoples in low-emission rural development. The PCI is tackling thorny commodities such as the state’s beef and soy production.
  • Olam’s Living Landscape policy. Few upstream plantation companies have agreed to change their plantation development and purchasing strategies, but Olam just did. Their new strategy focuses on collaborating with multiple stakeholders in landscapes and making a holistic positive impact – not just mitigating negative impacts.
  • The World Cocoa Foundation’s Forest and Climate Initiative. As part of this initiative, private sector actors up and down the cocoa supply chain are collaborating through an association to work with the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast to reduce deforestation in the production of cocoa. This exciting collaborative model allows companies to engage alongside peers and with governments, and has potential which will be watched closely.

3. Certifications are limited in their ability to solve commodity-linked deforestation on a broad scale.

Global certification processes can help companies take short- and medium-term steps toward reducing deforestation in their supply chains. However, corporate leadership on forests needs to incorporate approaches that help resolve the problem on a broader scale and for the long term.

A better approach is a broader process such as the Responsible Sourcing Palm Oil (RSPO) certification system that is now being implemented in a number of jurisdictions. The RSPO helps its members think more broadly about indirect impacts and other supply chain actors – such as government agencies – in places where palm oil is grown and being developed.

4. More complex approaches that include governments are necessary in most contexts and for medium- and long-term success.

Because deforestation is a complex, multi-layered challenge, solving deforestation necessitates a complex approach – one that involves players from the crops and industries causing deforestation, as well as local and national political processes. Inherent in such a complex approach is the need to define complex concepts, including the term “deforestation” itself, and what is “legal” at the state, provincial, and/or national level.

TFA 2020 General Assembly and making progress

The Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020 initiative is a platform focused on enhancing partnerships between government, private sector, and civil society organizations to eliminate deforestation. Parties at TFA’s upcoming General Assembly will tackle how to achieve the goal of zero net deforestation by 2020 from key commodities, like beef, soy and palm oil.

EDF will promote jurisdictional approaches, including Mato Grosso’s Produce, Conserve, and Include strategy, during a side event geared at increasing the engagement of corporate actors with government, farmers and civil society.

Reducing deforestation remains a significant challenge and becoming more urgent – deforestation rates remain high and have a direct impact on global warming. It will take the actors involved in deforestation to come together to find a solution that works for everyone, and for the planet. Promising solutions, like the jurisdictional approach, are emerging and showing signs that it can be done.

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New study shows “double counting” of emissions reductions outside NDCs a bigger risk than previously thought

Air pollution in Toronto. Photo credit: Flickr/ United Nations Photo.

Delegates and advisors meeting in Bonn, Germany are hard at work hammering out the fine print for the Paris Agreement Rulebook, and a particular focus has been placed on deciding how Articles 4 and 6 will play out as the agreement comes into force.

These two articles are important because they outline rules to ensure environmental integrity in emissions reductions, particularly when nations are cooperating with others to cut emissions together, likely through international trading. Trading is an important tool in the effort to limit temperature rise, as it can lower the overall cost of reducing emissions, potentially increasing the ambition of the world’s greenhouse gas targets.

Nonetheless, having a strong standard in place to ensure that all trades of emissions reductions are high-quality and transparent is important to prevent “double counting” or “double claiming.”  This refers to a situation where emissions are reduced in one nation, traded to another to offset emissions increases, but are still claimed by the issuing nation when reporting on their own emissions cuts.  If the Article 6 rulebook were to allow such double claiming, it would make it seem like we are getting twice as many emissions reductions as actually happen – and that would be bad news for the climate.

While Articles 4 and 6 have text to help prevent that, their focus on sectors that are covered within each nation’s “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC) has led some to suggest that double claiming need not be a concern if it occurs for reductions outside NDCs. Nonetheless, other provisions of the Paris Agreement, like Article 13, require Parties to develop a transparent accounting framework to track how their efforts are contributing to the goal of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius—which could very well apply to reductions in non-NDC sectors too.

In that context, it is important to consider the question: What share of the world’s emissions occurs outside of NDC coverage?  Even if emissions are covered under NDCs, are there certain types of NDC targets that still leave covered emissions vulnerable to double counting? How should the rulebook best account for this risk, given the Paris Agreement’s pre-existing integrity requirements?

EDF set out to answer these questions with a preliminary analysis to assess the overall share of the world’s emissions that are at risk of double counting—and we found it could be over a third of the world’s total emissions. That’s about as many emissions as from China and the US put together.

The study is a two-part process. First, we interpreted NDCs using a standardized classification system that determined what share of each nation’s emissions could reasonably be considered “covered” under their NDC.

Second, we crafted four different scenarios that assessed the risk profile of different shares of the world’s emissions, based on a set of assumptions that ranged from optimistic to conservative. In our scenarios, we vary the types of NDC targets that can be considered stringent enough to ensure that emissions covered under their scope will not be double counted.  In our category 1 scenarios, all target types are eligible; in the category 2 scenarios, only mitigation targets with a quantifiable cap on emissions are considered.

China and India also have assumptions that differ across scenarios. They are treated separately from other large emitters due to the fact that their mitigation targets are intensity-based (measured relative to units of GDP), rather than compared to a base year or baseline scenario level of emissions.

In all scenarios, the share of the world’s emissions at high risk of double counting was substantial. Even in the most generous scenario where all types of NDC mitigation targets were considered to entail low risks of double counting, we found that 6.5% of the world’s yearly emissions were at high risk of double counting—more than all of India’s emissions put together.  Our most conservative scenario painted a much starker picture, with about a third of the world’s emissions considered at high risk of double counting.

The estimated share of world emissions that could be at high risk of double counting rises even higher if only parties to the Paris agreement are taken into account.  According to our estimates, nations who are not Parties account for about 5 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions (that’s about 10% of world totals).  If we assume these emissions are also at high risk of double counting, given the fact that they don’t benefit from the same standards placed upon emissions exchanges as those that are governed by the Paris Agreement, the total volume of high risk emissions could range as high as 39.5% of world emissions.

In reality, emissions reductions are only at risk of being double counted if there is demand for them, and international emissions markets are still at a nascent stage. Still, coming years could bring a spike in demand for carbon credits—nearly half of the world’s nations have expressed interest in using either domestic or international market mechanisms to meet their NDC goals, and the scope of carbon markets is rising worldwide.

With more opportunities to benefit from carbon trading comes a greater incentive to double count—but only in the absence of high quality standards on such exchanges. These results indicate that the stakes are high, and parties should take every effort to ensure that double counting risk is proactively taken into account, both within and outside of NDCs, when designing the rules that nations will abide by for years to come.

This post was updated on May 16 to add a reference in the second paragraph to an analysis about the potential for emissions trading to reduce emissions and increase ambition, as well as an updated headline.

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Clouds on the horizon: The legal status of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism

In sunny springtime Bonn at the climate talks, discussions are intensifying about the future of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

The CDM was established in 1997 by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The Protocol set caps on the carbon pollution of more than 30 industrialized countries for the years 2008-2012, and the caps were amended to extend them to 2020.

The Protocol provides that when industrialized countries invest in projects that cut carbon pollution in developing countries, the CDM can issue carbon credits – called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs). The Protocol then authorizes industrialized countries to increase their emissions above their commitment levels and use the credits to comply with their emissions commitments by claiming them as offsets against pollution growth.

Since its launch over 20 years ago, the CDM has been analyzed extensively – from the transparency of its institutions, to the geographic distribution of its projects, the marginal costs of CDM investments, the environmental effectiveness of these investments, their vulnerability to fraud and deregistration, and the future potential of the CDM in the context of the 2015 Paris Agreement, whose new frameworks for addressing climate change supplant the Kyoto commitments starting in 2020.

Legal status of CDM

One topic that has received little attention, however, is the legal status of the CDM and of the carbon credits issued by it.

Is there a legal basis for the CDM’s institutions to continue after the Kyoto Protocol’s commitments expire in 2020? If so, is there a legal basis for the CDM to issue carbon credits after 2020? And is there a legal basis for using CDM credits to meet emissions reduction obligations after 2020?

There’s a legal uncertainty hovering over any prospective post-2020 use of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to meet emissions obligations.

Initial legal analysis indicates that while the Kyoto Protocol may provide a legal basis for the CDM’s institutions to continue, there is no legal basis for using CERs to meet any other emissions reduction obligations after 2020. Article 12.3(b) of the Kyoto Protocol authorizes one use, and only one use, for the CDM’s carbon credits: it provides that industrialized countries may use CERs to contribute to part of their compliance with their emissions commitments under the Protocol.

That means there’s a legal uncertainty hovering over any prospective post-2020 use of CERs to meet emissions obligations, whether in the context of the Paris Agreement or the market based mechanism known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which was adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2016.

This legal uncertainty has many practical implications. One is that as nations move to implement their emissions reduction commitments (known as “nationally determined contributions," or NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, some hope that the CDM’s institutions and tools could unleash investment in emission reductions in sectors not covered by NDC pledges.

The volume of emissions in those “non-NDC” sectors may be quite significant: a new analysis indicates that up to one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions of the Paris Parties might lie outside the NDCs. Failure to adopt rigorous rules for monitoring and accounting for carbon credits in these sectors could create perverse incentives to let non-NDC pollution balloon. Whether the CDM is up to this task remains unclear.

What would clarify the situation is the following: If Parties to the Paris Agreement – and the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol – want the CDM and its carbon credits to serve new purposes after 2020, the Parties will need to take key legal steps before 2020 to adapt them to the new realities of the Paris Agreement.

The good news is that these legal steps – which may include amending the Kyoto Protocol – are fully within the authority of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (CMP) and the authority of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) to undertake. But if the CMP and CMA fail to act, then the future of the CDM, from a legal perspective, will remain a cloudy one.

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