Accounting methods for international land-related leakage and distant deforestation drivers
Review article, 2014

International agricultural trade flows are increasingly important as distant drivers in global land-use changes, creating teleconnections between geographically separated locations of consumption and production. Land- use displacement and associated carbon emissions can undermine the effectiveness of land-use and climate pol- icies, such as activities to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Nevertheless, few accounting methods exist for international emissions leakage from land-use change, due to methodological and policy challenges. In this paper we review methods to quantify international land-use displacement and teleconnections through international trade. Weaknesses and strengths of those methods are assessed as well as the conclusiveness of results. We identify limitations and potential ways forward for the quantification of land-related leakage in general, while highlighting implications for REDD-leakage accounting in particular. Re- sults show that land-related leakage assessments are facilitated by applying a weak leakage definition, without the requirement to demonstrate causal leakage effects. Suitable quantification approaches combine method ele- ments such as economic modeling, trade-flow analysis, biophysical accounting and life-cycle assessments. De- pending on the use of monetary or physical input data the results can change considerably. All reviewed methods face limitations such as uncertainties and data gaps in emission factors.

Consumption- and production-based accounting

Emissions embodied in trade

Carbon leakage


Sabine Henders

Linköping University

Madelene Ostwald

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Ecological Economics

0921-8009 (ISSN)

Vol. 99 21-28

Subject Categories

Globalization Studies

Forest Science

Environmental Sciences

Areas of Advance




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