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Classroom Resources: Raising the Bar on Kyoto

By Adelheid Fischer
January-March 2006 (Vol. 7, No. 1)

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Discussion Questions

(Note to teachers: if students do not already have previous knowledge of carbon emissions, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its Kyoto protocol, you may want to have the students review the Protocol and/or sections of the explanatory text at the UNFCCC website (, prior to reading “Raising the Bar on Kyoto.” This article is probably best used for advanced undergraduate and graduate classes as opposed to beginning undergraduate classes.)

  1. Visit the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; and read about the primary mechanisms available to treaty Parties to meet their emissions reduction targets. Briefly describe each of these three mechanisms. Which of these mechanisms is addressed by the standards developed by the CCBA? What information can you find on the track record of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to date in terms of sequestering carbon and/or reducing emissions?
  2. The article mentions some of the objections that environmental groups raised regarding the Plantar project as originally formulated. Identify some additional potential negative effects on biodiversity and local communities that could arise from projects focused exclusively on carbon mitigation. Do the standards produced by the CCBA provide a comprehensive framework to avoid unintended negative consequences for communities and biodiversity? Can you think of other factors that should be considered?
  3. Read more about the Plantar project on the web site of its principal funder, The World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund: (
  4. The Plantar project was designed to store carbon in living biomass, in the form of 23,000 acres of fuelwood and a smaller area of restored native forest. What specific management strategies and actions would you suggest to project managers in order to achieve project production goals while still sequestering carbon, protecting biodiversity and benefiting local communities?
  5. Summarize how the project intends to contribute to increased sequestration and reduced emissions. In your opinion, what is the likelihood that this project meets the stipulation that CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) project activities “must reduce emissions below those emissions that would have occurred in the absence of the CDM project activity (UNFCCC website).”

Websites for Further Information

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):
  • The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA):
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
  • Prototype Carbon Fund:
  • CarbonLife CO2 Lifestyle Calculator:

Additional Resources for Teachers

  • Canadian Environmental Literacy Project:
  • Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP):

Climate Change and Kyoto in the News

Key Concepts

  • Climate change and biodiversity
  • Carbon mitigation
  • Clean Development Mechanism
  • Certification and standards
  • Sustainable development
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