Regenerative Practices 101 Pathway:
What are the Elements of a Carbon Offset?
A carbon offset is a measurable unit that can substitute for the GHG emission reductions that an organization would have made on its own. A carbon credit is the certificate that a practice has removed 1 tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In agriculture, a carbon credit is generated through broad adoption of farm management practices that replenish the soil and help trap carbon in the ground.
However, many individuals and organizations are asking what goes into a high-quality carbon offset?
Organizations looking to reduce their carbon footprint can turn to carbon offsets. When purchasing carbon offsets, it’s important to ensure the offsets have environmental integrity. There are five criteria for carbon offsets that are recognized by all climate bodies and are outlined by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Offsets must represent one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that are reduced or sequestered as a result of an activity taken for that purpose. Regenerative agriculture practices qualify.
Carbon offsets are considered permanent if they are not reversible. Avoided one-time emissions, such as a reduction in use of tractor fuel, are considered permanent. For carbon sequestration, the carbon added to the soil must remain there for 100 years to be considered permanent.
Additionality means that the carbon offsets were generated by activities that would not have occurred without a carbon marketplace as an incentive. Additionality guarantees that the purchaser of carbon offsets is making a real difference in the world by making the purchase.
Emission reductions and sequestration must be monitored and verified. CIBO monitors and verifies the practices of farmers enrolled in its carbon offset program.
Enforceable carbon offsets must be tracked and logged so that ownership is verifiable and an offset may only be sold once. The CIBO marketplace provides enforceability.
CIBO meets or exceeds each part of the five criteria for carbon offsets. The CIBO Carbon Credit is designed to reward growers on an annual basis for reducing their agricultural carbon footprint.
A number of grower practices can lead to a reduced carbon footprint: cover cropping can increase soil carbon stocks, reduce erosion, and improve soil texture. Reduced tillage can increase soil carbon stocks, reduce erosion, and reduce the operation’s consumption of diesel fuel. Increasing the complexity of crop rotations and reducing the application of commercial nitrogen fertilizers are other practices that can improve the carbon footprint of a farm.
Some changes in grower practices can be considered permanent, such as the reduction of fuel consumption. In addition, CIBO’s annual carbon offsets provide a way for farmers to offset the costs of long-term investments in land improvement, thereby incentivizing the permanent adoption of regenerative practices and permanent carbon sequestration.
Just like other commercial enterprises, farmers find it necessary to adjust their business model to adapt to a changing landscape of supply and demand. As the agricultural carbon marketplace expands, more farmers will realize the benefits of producing a carbon credit as a product alongside the traditional crop itself. By helping reduce barriers to regenerative practice adoption, CIBO offsets provide a win-win for farmers themselves and the environment.
Verification refers to the process of independently certifying that the management practices reported by the grower were actually carried out. At CIBO, we combine proprietary science-based computer simulations with remote sensing and computer vision to verify grower practices. Our system uses a staged verification process to ensure that the reported practices on each field are verified and trusted.
The CIBO marketplace provides enforceability by tracking and logging its annual carbon offsets. Once verified, carbon offsets are offered for sale on the CIBO Impact website. Buyers have the option to purchase offsets from a specified field or to purchase pooled offsets. When buyers do not specify a particular field, offsets are sold on a first-in/first-out basis. When offsets are sold, the offsets are retired and payment is made to the enrollee. This is documented and closely managed to ensure carbon offsets are only offered once.
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