Agri­cul­ture can play a huge role in seques­ter­ing car­bon and decreas­ing the amount of green­house gasses in the atmos­phere. Up to now, though, there has been lit­tle finan­cial incen­tive for farm­ers to do so, due to the inabil­ity to mea­sure car­bon in the soil. That’s chang­ing, though. Last June, Indigo announced its Ter­ra­ton Ini­tia­tive that aims to pay farm­ers for car­bon seques­tra­tion. In the fol­low­ing arti­cle, Ed Smith, vice pres­i­dent of Indigo Car­bon and Ter­ra­ton, and Dan Har­burg, senior direc­tor of sys­tems inno­va­tion for Indigo, dis­cuss Indigo’s part­ner­ships with the car­bon reg­istries devel­oped by Verra and the Cli­mate Action Reserve.  

 Agri­cul­tural soil car­bon seques­tra­tion and emis­sions reduc­tions can be imme­di­ate and afford­able levers in address­ing cli­mate change. That’s what’s sug­gested by the cli­mate plans from the top U.S. pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, con­sid­er­a­tion at the United Nations Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence, and what’s being fea­tured promi­nently in the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change’s land use report. How­ever, this hinges on the pre­cise and ver­i­fied mea­sure­ments of soil car­bon and net green­house gas emis­sions from the farm.

Car­bon reg­istries, like Verra and the Cli­mate Action Reserve are lead­ers when it comes to car­bon mea­sure­ment and account­ing. This is why Indigo is launch­ing part­ner­ships with both reg­istries. The part­ner­ships are in dif­fer­ent capac­ity, but they will enable the world to pay farm­ers for address­ing cli­mate change.

As impacts of cli­mate change have become more intense for com­mu­ni­ties around the world, farm­ers have expe­ri­enced and suf­fered on the front lines,” says Craig Ebert, CEO of the Cli­mate Action Reserve. “We have an oppor­tu­nity, though, for them to play a crit­i­cal role in solu­tions that sig­nif­i­cantly address the cli­mate cri­sis and improve the health of their lands. For that oppor­tu­nity to be suc­cess­ful, we need a strong, col­lab­o­ra­tive effort back­ing it. We need the farm­ers’ exper­tise, sci­en­tists’ research, data from other sec­tor par­tic­i­pants, and rig­or­ous stan­dards to guide the way.”

Mea­sur­ing Car­bon is Key 
Today, there is no prac­ti­cal way for a farmer to earn car­bon cred­its. While some pro­to­cols do exist, they are either too costly to be adopted, or not rig­or­ous enough to be valu­able. As a result, almost none of the tens of bil­lions of dol­lars of car­bon cred­its that are pur­chased each year go to farm­ers. Vast poten­tial car­bon sink that lies in agri­cul­tural soils remains untapped. The key to unlock­ing this poten­tial and con­nect­ing farm­ers to car­bon mar­kets is the abil­ity to mea­sure and ver­ify car­bon accu­rately and affordably.

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In its work with Verra, the Cli­mate Action Reserve, and the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, Indigo is devel­op­ing pro­to­cols to quan­tify, mon­i­tor, report, and ver­ify green­house gas emis­sions reduc­tions on farms and car­bon seques­tra­tion within soils to address this gap. Mea­sur­ing net green­house gas emis­sions in agri­cul­ture will also shed light on how the indus­try can impact the arc of cli­mate change and pro­vide mar­ket con­fi­dence by ensur­ing rigor and trans­parency in the gen­er­a­tion of these car­bon credits.

Agri­cul­tural soils offer us one of the most promis­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for draw­ing down car­bon diox­ide,” says Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley pro­fes­sor Daniel Kam­men, for­mer sci­ence envoy for the U.S. Depart­ment of State. “The tech­nol­ogy exists for us to accu­rately track increases in soil car­bon across mil­lions of acres so that we can invest in farm­ers, invest in car­bon draw­down, and do so ver­i­fi­ably and honestly.”

Indigo is sup­port­ing the devel­op­ment of the Soil Enrich­ment Project Pro­to­col with the Cli­mate Action Reserve. By the end of Jan­u­ary, the Cli­mate Action Reserve will form a work­ing group con­sist­ing of indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives, project devel­op­ers, farm­ers, envi­ron­men­tal NGOs, ver­i­fi­ca­tion bod­ies, researchers, and gov­ern­ment bod­ies. This is the first crit­i­cal step in run­ning an open, trans­par­ent process informed by expert per­spec­tives. After the work­ing group com­pletes a draft pro­to­col, there will also be a period for pub­lic com­ment, ensur­ing the Cli­mate Action Reserve receives feed­back from all con­stituents. This pro­to­col, expected to be final­ized in mid-​​2020, will be acces­si­ble by any car­bon credit project devel­oper, and will accel­er­ate the devel­op­ment and growth of agri­cul­tural car­bon markets.

Given the inter­est and global applic­a­bil­ity of agri­cul­ture as a lever in address­ing cli­mate change, Indigo is also part­ner­ing with Verra through its rig­or­ous pro­to­col devel­op­ment and review process on a sim­i­lar timeline.

Verra is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Indigo Ag and other lead­ing play­ers to build on the VCS’s pre­em­i­nent land-​​based car­bon account­ing and cred­it­ing plat­form and enable account­ing of soil car­bon in a robust yet scal­able way, and link­ing such efforts with mar­ket mech­a­nisms to drive major invest­ment into regen­er­a­tive and climate-​​smart agri­cul­tural prac­tices in the U.S. and around the world,” says David Anto­nioli, CEO of Verra.

Part­ner­ship, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and trans­parency are essen­tial to devel­op­ing high-​​caliber quan­tifi­ca­tion pro­grams. These car­bon pro­to­cols will allow us to under­stand agriculture’s ulti­mate poten­tial to address cli­mate change, bring depend­able cred­its to both farm­ers and buy­ers, and rally other con­stituents around this oppor­tu­nity. Indigo is excited to part­ner with Verra and the Cli­mate Action Reserve, and we are encour­aged by other efforts in this space. Farm­ers have the poten­tial to impact the course of our cli­mate tra­jec­tory – and turn dis­cus­sion into action.”

Source: Suc­cess­ful Farm­ing, click here for story link.

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