60-hour work weeks, all in the name of climate change
Some politicians may be accused of dragging their heels when it comes to dealing with climate change, but you can’t say members of the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism’s executive board aren’t clocking in the hours.
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), an emissions trading scheme under the Kyoto Protocol worth $33 billion last year according to the World Bank, allows companies and countries to outsource their greenhouse gas reduction efforts by investing in clean energy projects in emerging countries like China and India, where making emissions cuts costs less.
Projects are submitted to the CDM for registration and a staff of over 100 examine and scrutinize each one to ensure environmental integrity.
The whole scheme is supervised by a 20-member executive board, chaired by Lex de Jonge of the Netherlands’ environment ministry.
“The members are all employed by governments and assigned to the board. They don’t get a salary from the UN but they receive a daily subsistence allowance to pay for meals, hotel and travel costs,” de Jonge said at the Reuters Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.
“As chair of the board, I spend 75% of my time on CDM issues and 25% on domestic issues relating to my actual job,” he added.
The CDM’s executive board holds some 7 to 8 week-long meetings a year, up from 5 meetings in 2005, the year international emissions trading really began to take shape.
“They’re quite long days. We start at 9am and it’s seldom that we finish before 7 or 8pm. The worst I’ve ever seen was we worked until 3am,” de Jonge said.
Between board meetings, de Jonge said members must attend meetings for other related panels or working groups to which they belong. These extra-curricular duties can take an additional 6-8 weeks a year. Factor in the additional work required to prepare for these meetings and you’re looking at months, not weeks.
“If you add it all up, between 25 and 40 percent of a member’s working year is devoted to the board, and that is sometimes difficult for board members because they have other jobs to attend to,” de Jonge explained.
Would you work this much for climate change?
To read our Summit interview with Lex de Jonge, click here