The Clean Development Mechanism and Its Failure in Delivering Sustainable Development

  • Birthe Vichit Petersen Aalborg University
  • Kamille Bollerup Aalborg University


The main purpose of this paper is to critically analyse and assess the functions of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the context of the expressed expected outcomes versus actual outcomes. The CDM as a market mechanism is argued to function to perfection, but seems to fail in terms of delivering the expected development benefits. This paper attempts to delineate why the CDM undermines its sustainable development component of its dual objective and, to some extent, why it was too optimistic to assume in the first place that the CDM per se would deliver sustainable development. This is primarily done through an empirical framework by explaining the functions of the CDM, how it is structured, and illustrating the criticism of the CDM with some theoretical considerations deployed. Ultimately, the paper argues that there is a serious built-in flaw with the CDM, which at present is not addressed.

Author Biographies

Birthe Vichit Petersen, Aalborg University
MSc Development and International Relations (2011),
Kamille Bollerup, Aalborg University
MSc European Studies (2011)