With the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized polluting countries agreed to either reduce their Greenhouse Gases and CO2 emissions, or purchase CERs generated in non-polluting countries through CDM Projects. This opened up a new and exciting chapter in resource sharing across the globe.
Expectations of Activists
Kyoto was the result of passionate struggle of, among others, hundreds of thousands of environmentalists, scientists, feminists and pro-poor activists of all hue and shade, the world over. All of them are concerned individuals and groups who sincerely believed that the rich industrialized societies ought to be penalized for their blasé disregard for the environment and, simultaneously, poor societies rewarded for leading non-polluting lifestyles (even if such lifestyles were forced upon them due to poverty and lack of resources and opportunities).
However, things did not happen in this ideal, utopian manner. The CDM did not turn out to be a panacea for just and equitable redistribution of wealth.
The Carbon Market & Entry of the Big Players
Because Kyoto included country quotas on annual emission reduction that had to be quickly met, large quantities of CERs were urgently needed. Demand created the Carbon Market. Supply came from big players like power utilities, cement manufacturers, the transport industry, etc. who were better positioned to understand the intricacies of the Clean Development Mechanism on the one hand, and fortunate enough to be located in the non-polluting, non-Annex I countries on the other.
Window of Opportunity for Grassroots Bodies
Grassroots groups, NGOs, people's organizations, Gram Panchayats, etc. have not been quick enough to respond to the opportunity. We need to quickly get our act together and put our foot into the rapidly shutting window of opportunity before it is slammed shut.
Who are these Grassroots Groups?
Grassroots groups, NGOs, people's organizations, Gram Panchayats, etc. are best situated to identify Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) activities that can be undertaken for the sustainable development of village populations and communities. However, the methodological procedure for developing CDM Projects and finding resources to finance them are so complex that it is almost impossible for these groups and bodies to access this solution without making serious investment in capacity building, handholding and facilitation.