11 December, 2019

Article 6 needs ambition, not time wasting


Climate Analytics

Pune, India

Existing market mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol have accrued an available supply of some 4.65 Gt CO2 worth of carbon offsets, largely allocated to China, India, and Brazil. Were these credits to be rolled over into the mechanisms outlined by Article 6 of the Paris agreement, nearly 40% of existing ambition outlined by countries in their NDCs would be wiped away.

Present NDC ambition will likely lead to total warming of 2.8°C above the pre-industrial average. If the available supply of existing credits were to be carried over post-2020, an additional 0.1°C or more of warming could be realised, dependent on where credits are consumed.

By contrast, to move onto a trajectory compatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C would mean increasing the ambition of the current NDCs by 50%. Carry over of Kyoto units would therefore take us in the wrong direction, further away from a pathway that is faithful to the 1.5°C limit, and could lock-in carbon intensive infrastructure for the longer term.

Allowing roll-over of credits prior to 2020 would also potentially destroy the nascent Article 6 market by flooding it with pre-existing credits. Some of these credits could also be double counted if they are also used to meet 2020 targets.

It is imperative that mitigation credits generated prior to 2020 not be applied towards the Article 6 market mechanism; otherwise, already inadequate NDC targets will be made artificially easier to achieve, resulting in even less ambitious action toward the goals of the Paris Agreement.