Projects that increase bicycle use over fossil fuel-burning vehicles can now earn carbon credits, thanks to a decision taken by the Board that oversees the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
The CDM is one of the Flexible Mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol that provides for emissions reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units (CERs) which may be traded in emissions trading schemes.
It has the potential to assist developing countries in achieving sustainable development by promoting environmentally friendly investment from industrialised country governments and businesses.
“Bicycles are a great way to get around, and they’re great for reducing the emissions that cause climate change,” said CDM Executive Board Chair, Arthur Rolle. “It is practicable to consider rewarding and encouraging bicycle use with saleable, certified emission reduction credits.”
The CDM Board at its 99th meeting here in Bonn, Germany approved a new methodology for calculating the volume of emission reductions achieved through projects that establish bicycle lanes, bicycle parking, and bicycle-sharing programmes, encouraging a shift in passenger transport modes from their usual fossil-fuel-burning traffic in favour of clean and green pedal power such as bicycles, three-wheelers or e-bikes.
Transportation of urban passengers accounted for 7 percent of global emissions in 2015. So, efforts to increase bicycle use could result in a significant benefit to the climate, not to mention improve health and well-being.
“Promoting cycling is a practical, healthy way to step up climate action,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa. “I applaud the CDM Board for coming up with this methodology and encourage cities, organisations and others to consider setting up cycling projects under the CDM.”
In 2015 in Paris, countries committed to limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and to work towards the safer target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Between 2015 and 2050, urban passenger traffic is expected to increase 50 percent, to 5.0 trillion passenger-kilometres, with most of this rise occurring in Asia. Recent studies have shown that increasing cycling’s share of urban travel could negate the climate effects of this increase.
The CDM was established to incentivise projects that reduce emissions and contribute to sustainable development. The ability to earn saleable credits under the mechanism inspired the registration of more than 8,000 projects and programme in 111 developing countries, everything from clean cookstove projects, to wind power projects, to large industrial gases projects.