Can CERs be issued retroactively (that is, for a crediting period commencing prior to project registration)?

Non-forestry projects

For non-forestry projects, the Executive Board will only issue CERs for a crediting period which commences after the date of registration of the relevant CDM project activity:

...certified emission reductions shall only be issued for a crediting period starting after the date of registration of a clean development mechanism project activity (17/CP.7, paragraph 12).

An exception was made, which has now expired, to allow for the 'prompt start' of the CDM and promote market liquidity through the early generation and trading of CERs. Project activities that:

  • commenced before the first registration of a CDM project (which occurred on 18 November 2004), and
  • were submitted for registration before 31 December 2005 (or in certain circumstances, were not submitted for registration by this date but were registered by the Executive Board by 31 December 2006),

were permitted to use a crediting period starting prior to the date of registration, but this crediting period could not begin earlier than 1 January 2000.

This rule was developed in three stages. The Conference of Parties (COP) decided on 10 November 2001 at COP 7 to facilitate the prompt start of the CDM:

The Conference of the Parties, ...

  1. Decides to facilitate a prompt start for a clean development mechanism by adopting the modalities and procedures contained in the annex below (17/CP.7, paragraph 1).

To give effect to this the COP decided, at the same meeting, that:

...a project activity starting as of the year 2000, and prior to the adoption of this decision, shall be eligible for validation and registration as a clean development mechanism project activity if submitted for registration before 31 December 2005. If registered, the crediting period for such project activities may start prior to the date of its registration but not earlier than 1 January 2000 (17/CP.7 paragraph 13).

The above decision provides that the crediting period for a CDM project activity may precede the date of registration if the project activity:

  • commenced on or after 1 January 2000 but prior to 10 November 2001; and
  • was submitted for registration before 31 December 2005.

Following a recommendation of the Executive Board (EB 12, Annex 3, paragraph 2), the COP later decided that:

...a clean development mechanism project activity starting between the date of adoption of decision 17/CP.7 and the date of the first registration of a clean development mechanism project activity, if submitted for registration before 31 December 2005, may use a crediting period starting prior to the date of its registration (18/CP.9 paragraph 1(c)).

The above decision provides that the crediting period for a CDM project activity may precede the date of registration if the project activity:

  • commenced on or after 10 November 2001, but before 18 November 2004; and
  • was submitted for registration before 31 December 2005.

A limited exception was made to the 31 December 2005 deadline for submission of the request for registration:

The Board agreed to the following exceptional provisions with regard to the deadline of 31 December 2005 that project participants may benefit from a crediting period starting prior to the date of registration:
  1. Requests have to be uploaded by DOEs through the UNFCCC CDM web site interface before 31 December 2005 @ GMT 24:00 (the transfer reference for the fee payment is forwarded to DOE/PP after this step is undertaken). The DOE shall indicate if the crediting period is to start prior to the date of registration.
  2. The related proof of payment shall be submitted by the project participants expeditiously through the DOE. A proof of payment shall be uploaded by a DOE on 20 January 2006 at the latest.
  3. The secretariat shall undertake its completeness check as soon as possible after a request has been uploaded by a DOE through the dedicated interface on a first come first serve basis. The check shall ensure that adequate documentation has been submitted (approval letters (authorization) by Parties, correct version numbers of documentation). The Board expects that such checks could be completed by the secretariat before 14 January 2006. The Board notes that the accreditation of DOEs may be questioned if the submission contains clearly inadequate documentation not corresponding to the guidance and guidelines provided by the Board.
  4. If the proof of payment is not received in time and/or the completeness check process is not concluded before 15 February 2006, the activity may only be considered for registration with a crediting period starting after the date of registration (EB 22, paragraph 74).

A third and final exception was made by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP) at 7/CMP.1, allowing projects that were not registered by 31 December 2005 but were submitted for validation or had submitted a new methodology to claim retroactive credits, provided they were registered by 31 December 2006:

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, ...

  1. Decides that project activities that started in the period between 1 January 2000 and 18 November 2004 and have not yet requested registration but have either submitted a new methodology or have requested validation by a designated operational entity by 31 December 2005 can request retroactive credits if they are registered by the Executive Board by 31 December 2006 at the latest (7/CMP.1, paragraph 4).

Forestry projects

This rule does not apply to afforestation and reforestation (A/R) projects, which may receive temporary certified emission reductions (tCERs) and long-term certified emission reductions (lCERs) for a crediting period which commences prior to registration:

The Board further clarified that provisions of paragraphs 12 and 13 of decision 17/CP.7 do not apply to CDM afforestation and reforestation project activities. A CDM afforestation and reforestation project activity starting after 1 January 2000 can also be validated and registered after 31 December 2005 as long as the first verification of the project activity occurs after the date of registration of this project activity. Given that the crediting period starts at the same date as the starting date of the project activity, the projects starting 2000 onwards can accrue tCERs/lCERs as of the starting date (EB 21, paragraph 64).

Therefore, for A/R projects, the crediting period begins at the starting date of the project - that is, the date when the project becomes operational, regardless of when registration takes place:

The crediting period shall begin at the start of the afforestation or reforestation project activity under the CDM (5/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 23).