Leakage (A/R)

Leakage for afforestation and reforestation (A/R) projects is defined in 5/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 1(e):

Leakage is the increase in GHG emissions by sources which occurs outside the boundary of an A/R CDM project activity which is measurable and attributable to the A/R CDM project activity (5/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 1(e)).

A/R project activities must be designed so as to minimise leakage:

An afforestation or reforestation project activity under the CDM shall be designed in such a manner as to minimize leakage (5/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 24).

In estimating leakage from an A/R project activity, project participants must account for all significant changes in carbon pools and actual emissions, while taking care to avoid double counting:

In calculating the baseline net greenhouse gas removals by sinks and/or actual net greenhouse gas removals by sinks, project participants may choose not to account for one or more carbon pools, and/or emissions of the greenhouse gases measured in CO2 equivalents, while avoiding double counting. This is subject to the provision of transparent and verifiable information that the choice will not increase the expected net anthropogenic greenhouse gas removals by sinks. Project participants shall otherwise account for all significant changes in carbon pools and/or emissions of the greenhouse gases measured in CO2 equivalents by the sources that are increased as a result of the implementation of the afforestation or reforestation project activity, while avoiding double counting (5/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 21).

In estimating leakage, the Executive Board clarified in EB 22, Annex 15, paragraph 1 and reiterated in EB 28, paragraph 31 that the displacement of pre-project emissions from sources only needs to be taken into account if the emissions from the displaced location are greater than pre-project conditions. 

In other words, if an afforestation project activity displaces agricultural activities from the project site to another site, then the agricultural emissions at the new site must only be accounted for as leakage from the project if:

  • the agricultural emissions (at the new site) are greater than before; and
  • this increase resulted from the implementation of the project activity:
  1. In accordance with paragraph 21 of the modalities and procedures for CDM A/R project activities, only the increase of pre-project GHG emissions as a consequence of the implementation of the project activity has to be taken into account in the calculation of net anthropogenic GHG removals by sinks;
  2. Pre-project GHG emissions by sources which are displaced outside the project boundary in order to enable an afforestation or reforestation project activity under the CDM shall not be included under leakage if the displacement does not increase these emissions with respect to the pre-project conditions. Otherwise, leakage for the displacement of pre-project activities is equal to the incremental GHG emissions compared with the pre-project conditions (EB 22, Annex 15, paragraph 1; EB 28, paragraph 31).

However, decreases of carbon stocks in carbon pools outside the project boundary are to be included as leakage.  That is to say, if a project activity causes deforestation outside the project boundary, this is to be included in calculations as leakage from the project:

The Board clarified that the accounting of decreases of carbon pools outside the project boundary are to be considered as leakage and that, in particular:
  1. In the case of deforestation as land clearance outside the project boundary due to activity shifting, effects on all carbon pools shall be considered (EB 22, Annex 15, paragraph 3).

However, collection of fuelwood from places outside the project boundary are not to be considered leakage unless the forests are significantly degraded and the volume of wood being gathered means the forest cannot renew itself:

  1. In the case of fuelwood collection or similar activities outside the project boundary, only the gathered volume of wood that is non-renewable shall be considered as an emission by sources if forests are not significantly degraded due to this activity (EB 22, Annex 15, paragraph 3).
  • EB 51 Annex 13 provides guidance regarding whether the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases due to displacement of pre-project grazing activities attributable to an A/R CDM project activity is insignificant and may be accounted as zero.
  • EB 51 Annex 14 provides guidance regarding whether the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases due to displacement of pre-project crop cultivation activities attributable to an A/R CDM project activity is insignificant and may be accounted as zero.
  • Related Topics

    Emission reductions

    Certified emission reductions (CERs)

    What is a baseline? (A/R)

    What is additionality? (A/R)

    What is monitoring? (A/R)

    Project boundary (A/R)