Overshadowed by the activities in the final few days at the Copenhagen climate change conference, the UN agreed to revise some elements of its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Despite ongoing concerns about the long-term (post-2012) future of CDM, these reforms are significant.

Perhaps most significantly, the CDM reforms direct the CDM Executive Board to establish new procedures for stakeholders to appeal decisions. This on the heels of the CDM Executive Board’s controversial recent decision to reject applications from ten Chinese wind energy projects. The Executive Board has also been granted permission to streamline registration and issuance procedures for emission reduction projects and provide new funding to accelerate the development of CDM projects in countries with fewer than ten CDM approved projects in operation. Following a number of investigations which found that some of the firms tasked with independently verifying that CDM projects deliver real emission cuts had been cutting corners, the reforms also call for an improved system of “continuous performance monitoring” of these third-party certifiers.