Building Networks in the Climate Change Convention - Co-ordination failure in the establishment of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in Mexico

  • Adriana Aguilar Rodriguez

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis evaluates why the implementation of a tree plantation project in Chiapas, Mexico, called Scolel Te failed in its attempt to participate in the CDMs scheme. The Scolel Te project brings together farmers and local organisations into a network of exchange of resources that aims at producing an outcome that is only possible through the co-ordination and co-operation of all participants: the emission of carbon certificates. This thesis studies the co-ordination problems that local actors face at the moment of establishing the carbon projects by identifying how formal and informal mechanisms such as contracts, economic incentives, trust, and reputation, create or solve co-ordination problems in the Scolel Te network. The thesis also describes how changes in the distribution of power among actors affect the functioning of the network and how individual's interests and strategic alliances have the potential of derailing the aims of the environmental project. For such purposes, this thesis analyses the exchange relationships among actors at the micro level and identifies how exchange relationships evolve over time. Then an overall picture of the exchange relationships is presented (macro level) with focus in understanding how and why power in the network is exerted. Findings suggest that relying on economic incentives as the main mechanism to generate commitment among communities has failed to create stable exchange relationships in the long term. Trust and reputation are stronger mechanisms to achieve commitment. Moreover, we find that the ability to generate commitment depends highly on the generation of interdependencies between tree plantation projects and the main economic activities of local actors. However, type of land tenure, main economic activity, and pre-existing power relationships embedded at local level are also the principal factors that determine the dynamism of the social exchange relationships and commitment in the long-run. This thesis considers that co-ordination failure occurs because a lack of knowledge about the real dependencies between local actors and their natural resources in the design of CDMs. At macro level, this thesis found that the lack of accountability of the unregulated local carbon market at local level has created unintended incentives for actors to adopt less environmentally responsible strategies and disincentive participation in the CDMs.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNick Crossley (Supervisor) & Kevin Gillan (Supervisor)


  • Chiapas
  • Social exchange theory
  • Social Network analysis
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • Climate change
  • Mexico

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