Accounting methods for carbon credits: Impacts on the minimum area of CDM forestry projects

Abstract : The Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP-9) decided to adopt an accounting system based on expiring carbon credits to address the problem of non-permanent carbon storage in forests established under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This article reviews and discusses carbon accounting methods that were under consideration before COP-9 and presents a model which calculates the minimum area that forest plantation projects should reach to be able to compensate CDM transaction costs with the revenues from carbon credits. The model compares different accounting methods under various sets of parameters on project management, transaction costs, and carbon prices. Model results show that under current carbon price and average transaction costs, projects with an area of less than 500 ha are excluded from the CDM, whatever accounting method is used. Temporary crediting appears to be the most favorable approach to account for non-permanent carbon removal in forests and also for the feasibility of smaller projects. However, lower prices for credits with finite lifetimes may prevent the establishment of CDM forestry projects. Also, plantation projects with low risk of unexpected carbon loss and sufficient capacity for insuring or buffering the risk of carbon re-emission would benefit from equivalence-adjusted average carbon storage accounting rather than from temporary crediting.
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Bruno Locatelli, Lucio Pedroni. Accounting methods for carbon credits: Impacts on the minimum area of CDM forestry projects. Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis, 2004, 4 (2), pp.193-204. ⟨cirad-00699335⟩

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