The Kyoto Protocol empowered the UN to issue “certified emission reduction” credits (CERs) to qualified projects that offset greenhouse gas production. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has just reached the milestone of having issued its one billionth CER. Although that number is considerable, and represents 4,600 projects registered since the program began in 2004, we have still not even really begun to realize the full potential of this and other greenhouse gas offset programs. There is a vast universe of projects that will come into play over the next several years, from the CDM program itself, but also from the growing array of cap-and-trade programs – in Australia, California and beyond.
UNEP has a useful information program here with all manner of vivid graphics and statistics, but go to the UNFCCC website for more in-depth information, including One Billion: The CDM Story in Numbers, a short animation that marks the issuance of the billionth CER credit. Party on!