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Does the Gold Standard label hold its promise in delivering higher Sustainable Development benefits? A multi-criteria comparison of CDM projects

Authors
Disciplines
  • Ecology

Abstract

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has a twin objective: to help developed countries reduce GHG emissions, and to support developing countries in achieving Sustainable Development (SD). As a response to the widespread criticism of the CDM's unsatisfactory SD record, initiatives have developed premium labels like the Gold Standard, which applies two additional 'screens' to filter CDM projects for higher SD benefits. In order to determine whether Gold Standard projects can be associated with higher local SD benefits, this paper evaluates the potential benefits of 48 CDM projects using a multi-criteria method and building on existing work. The 18 evaluated Gold Standard projects are compared to a 'representative portfolio' of 30 unlabeled CDM projects in order to capture the 'full' effect of the additional Gold Standard requirements, which is further decomposed into the two 'screen' effects. The results suggest that Gold Standard Certified Emission Reductions can be associated with higher potential local SD benefits when compared to the 'representative portfolio' of unlabeled CDM projects, while the comparison of projects of the same type remains inconclusive. The results support previous findings showing that renewable energy projects may deliver comparatively high SD benefits.

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