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Joint implementation: looking back and forward

Publication date:
O. Gassan-zade
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This paper looks at the likely future of Joint Implementation (JI) in the fight against climate change. It also compares JI to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and evaluates how things have been going so far for JI. The paper explains that JI is effectively an alternative project-based mechanism for trading emissions between countries with a cap. Instead of directly purchasing emission rights, i.e. assigned amount units (AAUs), a country gains emitting permits through funding a part of a project activity which reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or enhances removals by sinks. One of the peculiarities of JI is that there is no wide constituency left to defend and negotiate its role in the new post-2012 agreement. As the Central Eastern European states have joined the EU they can no longer participate in the UNFCCC negotiations as individual Parties but only represent the collective viewpoint of the EU. Russia’s approach to post-2012 negotiations is likely to include resisting deep emission cuts and engaging large developing countries. As a result, little time and energy is left for JI. Key concluding points are:

a lot has changed since the idea of JI was introduced in Berlin in 1995 including the political economy of potential countries have changed, however, the project types have stayed the same
ten Central European countries have joined the EU since the establishment of the idea of JI, and as a result gained access to the EU ETS through which they are able to trade emission reductions more effectively and with a higher value than under JI
just like under the CDM a skewed geographic distribution had developed under JI, with the current market and the future of the mechanism hinging on Ukraine and Russia. Unlike the CDM, the two biggest potential JI suppliers have had only a modest progress in moving the mechanism forward
both within and beyond the first commitment period, the future of JI depends on how quickly and in which format the post-2012 agreement will emerge and how it will integrate JI.