Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) projects have the potential to reduce or remove a significant amount of greenhouse gas emission (GHGs) from the atmosphere; however, it is important to ensure these projects are not displacing emissions elsewhere. To ensure this, VCS projects must account for any displacement though requirements to quantify and deduct leakage. For example, where projects may reduce the supply of market commodities, impacting the market supply and demand equilibrium and displacing production outside project boundaries, causing emissions elsewhere, such leakage must be accounted for.

VCS, with the support of the Leakage Working Group, developed an AFOLU Project Market Leakage Module that has been adapted from our VMD00037 Global Commodity Leakage Module: Production Approach. This ensures consistent accounting procedures for market leakage for both jurisdictional programs and any projects nested within the jurisdictional program. In addition, this module has the possibility to be applied by project developers across a range of AFOLU project types to account for market leakage which provides consistency in accounting across different projects.

The module includes options to reduce leakage withholding where mitigation measures are in place. Market leakage can be prevented by establishing programs to increase production on lands already under cultivation, utilizing marginal lands for production, decreasing demand for such commodities through more efficient products and many other innovative strategies. Mitigating leakage both ensures the production is not displaced elsewhere but can also benefit the local communities and prevent continuing threats to convert the carbon stocks within the project area. This new approach incentivizes projects to mitigate any lost production and rewards them for demonstrating they have maintained production. By identifying and incentivizing ways for project developers to minimize market leakage, returns from all types of AFOLU projects may be increased.

As with any proposed module, the first step in the VCS approval process is to solicit public comments. To that end, I would encourage you to take a close look at it, and offer your thoughts, both pro and con. The comment period for the AFOLU Project Market Leakage Module begins today, 29 May 2014, and will end on 28 June 2014.

VCS staff will be holding a webinar to discuss this proposed module with a representative from our Leakage Working Group, Gordon Smith from Wildlife Works, on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 at 11:00am Eastern Daylight Time. Register for this webinar by clicking here.

Please contact the VCS to submit any comments by emailing Comments must include a name, organization, country and email address.