Role of sustainable development in carbon offsetting

The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) aims to help industrialized countries with emissions reduction targets to meet their targets by generating credits from the developing world, and to help developing countries achieve sustainable developmentgoals and to reduce climate change. Sustainable development forms a core concept in exercising the CDM. However, the term sustainable development is defined rather vaguely.

If one does attempt to define sustainable development as the coming together of social, economic and environmental objectives, most projects which claim to be sustainability-focused suddenly do not seem so sustainable after all. With the lack of a definition, countries have chosen to define sustainability as per their convenience especially considering the conflict of interest they face regarding attracting investment versus sustainable development choices. Many standards are available in the current market to assess sustainable development through indicators but there still continues to be a considerable backlash from academia stating that most CDM projects have not lived up to their commitment of sustainable development as promised.

However, carbon offsetting plays a small part in promoting sustainable development by setting it as a criterion. It advances efficient energy use and moving to better alternatives. Unfortunately, that makes for a very thin silver lining to the cloud and increased standardization is required for fulfill the condition of sustainable development in a more wholesome manner.


Other related reads: CDM Gold Standard, Can standards for voluntary carbon offsets ensure development benefits?

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