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The paper investigates whether the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol has played a significant role in the development of rural communities, specifically investigating uptake of small-scale renewable energy projects. The investigation involved an assessment of 500 registered small-scale CDM projects under the Kyoto Protocol in terms of their potential impact on the envisaged sustainable development goals for rural communities. Five case studies from the Indian subcontinent were also examined. The paper concludes that the CDM in its current state and design has typically failed to deliver the promised benefits with regard to development objectives in rural areas. Successful projects were found...