Former Silicon Valley Executives Launch Vibrant Planet for Forest Restoration

Vibrant Planet raised a $17M seed round to expand its technology focusing on forest restoration across the Western U.S., Europe, and other at-risk forests worldwide.

Public sector funding to support wildfire risk reduction and forest restoration is on the rise. Yet, there’s no infrastructure to help know where and how efforts must be used to maximize impact.

This is where Vibrant Planet’s unique platform comes in to help address the concern.

The startup is developing “Land Tender” a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for forest management.

Vibrant Planet SaaS for Forest Restoration

For the company’s CEO, Allison Wolff:

“We just need to do this — we need to restore forests faster, and they might make it through climate change, and they might help us survive climate change.”

The firm raise a $17 million funding as wildfire season is taking hold again in the West.

Lead investors include the Ecosystem Integrity Fund and The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust.

Other investors include:

Valia Ventures,
Earthshot Ventures (backed by John Doerr, Tom Steyer, Microsoft, etc.),
Elemental Excelerator,
Cisco Foundation,
Day One Ventures,
Data Tech Fund, and
Halogen Ventures.

The seed funding will enable Vibrant Planet to grow its team and expand its platform to restore resilience of at-risk forests.

Prior investors include two of Silicon Valley’s top platform creators from Meta and Netflix.

The firm offers the first operating system in the field – Land Tender. It’s for forest treatment planning, decision support, monitoring and reporting, and investment prioritization. It gives organizations, public agencies, and land managers a comprehensive platform.

Vibrant Planet’s technology allows land owners, managers, and administrators to:

Make forest treatment scenarios in real-time with the AI-backed data.
Prioritize where and how funding should be used to cut risks. This will also maximize carbon, water, and biodiversity benefits.
Develop treatment plans together with stakeholders.
Keep track and report on landscape conditions and forest restoration progress.
Use strategies and tactics based on monitoring insights.
Create verified fire-adapted forest carbon projects that aid firms to reach net zero targets.

How the Tender Land Platform Works

Land Tender is a cloud-based planning and monitoring tool for agile, adaptive land management at any scale.

Through Tender Land, users can prioritize their objectives in relation to forest restoration.

For instance, they may prefer to pay attention to fire risk or endangered species conservation. Or they can also look at water quality as the key matter.

Users can then run analysis to know how different landscape treatments can impact their priorities.

Vibrant Planet also offers access to a range of datasets on forest restoration. The centerpiece is a lidar map of the state of California where 6.5 million of its 33 million forested acres burned over the last two fire seasons.

Not to mention that 1.3 million acres of California’s forests experienced high severity burning that killed biomass. In these cases, it may take decades to centuries for forests to recover.

The importance of restoring resilience to key forest landscapes has never been greater. Forests store a third of the carbon dumped by humans into the air each year. They also have a vital role in regulating weather patterns and global warming.

Vibrant Planet focuses its efforts on at-risk forests like in California and the Mediterranean regions. They’re where climate change is hitting the hardest.

The firm sells Land Tender via licenses which cost $3,500 each. This lidar technology is helpful when it comes to mapping forests in 3D and learning their fire risk.

Even dense forests, which are hard to map, are possible with an AI-powered algorithm of Land Tender.

Here’s how this forest restoration platform helps users and stakeholders:

Vibrant Planet’s offering covers the competitive annual pricing for ArcGIS, the industry-standard geographic information system.

It also has less expensive offers depending on the types of ArcGIS extensions a group might spec to meet their needs.

The main difference, though, is that the firm includes a host of data that users would need to find on their own. Plus, what sounds like some clever collaboration tools.

In the words of Dr. Neil Hunt from Vibrant Planet:

“Vibrant Planet is seizing the opportunity to bring modern cloud-based technology, remote sensing, AI/ML, and intuitive user-centered design to create systems that reduce the time and cost of decision-making in forests…”

He further said that developing carbon credits will help fund the interventions necessary to restore forest health and resilience. Large companies buy carbon credits to offset their hard-to-abate carbon footprint.

The second step of the firm’s business model is to provide data and analysis to develop carbon credits. They correspond to certain amount of carbon avoided/removed from the air through the forests.

But this plan is yet to be decided and revealed.

Vibrant Planet’s platform will be available for users across California by the end of the year. It will also be ready in other Western states where demand starts to take off throughout next year.

The company further said it can add more regions or countries depending on the availability of lidar data.

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Gold Carbon Emissions and Net Zero

The World Gold Council (WGC) analyzes the impact of climate transition on the gold industry and its stakeholders, focusing on power emissions.

The WGC and its members recognize the risks that climate change brings to the global economy and on the gold sector’s future.

Hence WGC, the global experts on gold, focuses to bring a clearer understanding of how climate-related risks can affect the entire industry.

The group does this by conducting research and promoting how responsible gold mining as a key aspect of its ESG supports the transition to a low carbon economy.

WGC’s Gold and Climate Change

Mining is a very energy-intensive industry that uses up to 11% of total global energy consumption. Its carbon footprint is relatively small but insignificant compared to other sectors.

Estimated emissions for the global gold market are around 126.4 Mt CO2 equivalent a year.

The WGC identified that the major source of the gold’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are from its mining operations. They represent the sector’s Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) emissions.

For each ounce of gold produced that is roughly 800 kg CO2 (or 0.8 carbon credit equivalency).

About 95% of those emissions come from the power or fuel used in the sector (power emissions). Of this, electricity represents the largest source of emissions at the mine site.

But with electrification in gold mine sites, around 6 million liters of diesel each year were no longer used in mining operations.

The group also confirmed that carbon footprint from gold’s downstream (Scope 3) uses are relatively small.  Here’s gold’s GHG emissions from its total downstream products.

Power emissions indeed play a big part in gold’s total carbon footprint. WGC seeks to provide an analysis of the potential impacts of changes in gold mining’s electricity generation.

More importantly, it aims to offer knowledge of how those changes may reflect the industry’s ability to meet climate targets.

This is to help investors and the wider stakeholder groups to be open to more opportunities as they seek to decarbonize energy sources.

Gold Net Zero Targets and Pathways

Based on its analysis, WGC outlined a range of possible steps and pathways for the industry to net zero. The image below shows these options.

The WGC estimated that the emissions pathway needed for the industry to help limit global warming to <2ºC calls for an emissions reduction of 80% by 2050. And if the industry wishes to achieve a 1.5ºC target, a 92% reduction by 2040 is necessary.

More so, gold mining companies need to achieve around 27% or 46% non-power emissions reduction by 2030.

Today, grids are transitioning to lower emission power sources. And WGC projected that this will translate to a 20% reduction in the emissions intensity of gold mines grid power by 2030.

That’s because new initiatives from gold miners are now focusing on cleaner electricity consumption. Solar energy is their top renewable energy source.

Solar is the preferred technology due to its relatively low cost, scalability and frequent geographic fit.

If single actions were taken to enable 1.5ºC target alignment, this requires either:

replacement of 55% or more of direct fossil fuel generated power with renewables or
replacement of 30% or more of grid supply with renewables.

So overall, the current net zero commitments by WGC gold miners show the vital role of energy in driving more emission reductions in the sector.

But there’s one more important finding that the WGC highlighted as the industry transitions to a low carbon future. That’s the impact of introducing gold as a strategic investment to a global multi-asset portfolio.

Aligning Investment Portfolios with Paris Agreement

One important finding of the group is that holding gold in a diversified portfolio can help reduce its carbon footprint.

For example:

For a portfolio of 70% equities and 30% bonds, introducing a 10% allocation to gold (and reducing the other asset holdings by equal amounts) reduced the emissions intensity of portfolio value by 7%, and a 20% holding in gold lowered it by 17%.

And so, the WGC suggested that gold may play a positive role in mitigating portfolio climate impacts.

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Generating Carbon Credits from Mining Waste

One of the world’s biggest mining companies, BHP, is exploring generating carbon credits from its waste products through a process called “carbon mineralization”.

BHP is an Australian multinational mining, metals, and petroleum company that discovered that CO2 was being captured and stored in waste from one of its nickel mining operations.

Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator is now considering the introduction of a new carbon credit offset methodology under the country’s Emissions Reduction Fund.

Carbon Mineralization is not a new concept, but the biggest roadblock to its mass adoption has been the cost-benefit analysis.

Estimates of the gross carbon removal capacity through carbon mineralization range from many trillions to quadrillions of tons of CO2.

A new carbon mineralization carbon credits methodology might unlock additional revenue potential for miners.

What is Carbon Mineralization?

Carbon mineralization is the process that turns CO2 into a solid mineral, such as carbonate. It’s a chemical reaction that occurs when certain rocks get exposed to CO2.

In theory, these rocks can store hundreds of years of human carbon emissions. 

The biggest advantage of this method is that CO2 cannot escape back to the atmosphere as it turns to stone. As a result, it offers a permanent carbon capture and storage solution for entities looking to offset their emissions.

About 1% of the world’s GHG emissions are captured and stored for good using this method.  

There are two main types of carbon mineralization.

Injecting CO2 into rock formations deep underground.
Exposing CO2 to broken pieces of rock at the surface like mine tailings.

BHP’s mine tailings and ACCUs.

BHP has been producing magnesium as waste tailings at its Nickel West mine at Mount Keith in Western Australia.

Samantha Langley, the firm’s scientist, found that their waste magnesium was combined with CO2 to form a stable compound. It’s called hydromagnesite, a hydrated magnesium carbonate.

A study found that around 80% of the CO2 stored in the Nickel West mine’s hydromagnesite waste had been drawn from the atmosphere. This carbon mineralization can offset about 11% of the mine’s carbon emissions.

The study estimated that the tailings dam at the nickel mine was capturing around 40,000 tonnes of CO2 yearly. And this happens naturally without any action from BHP.

Langley believes that the dam can draw CO2 more than BHP’s iron ore and nickel mining emissions. The mining giant also says that by enhancing CO2 capture of its mine tailings, it can entirely offset its mining operations emissions.

According to Langley,

“Although mineral carbonation is a process that can take thousands of years, we don’t have thousands of years to address the impacts of climate change… It’s an exciting opportunity to see if we can use technology and different tailings management practices to speed up the process, and store away carbon dioxide much faster…”

Right now, there’s no framework yet for carbon credits using carbon mineralization. Neither Verra nor any other 3rd party carbon standards has it in place.

But if BHP is successful in establishing an offset method for carbon mineralization, it can be eligible to claim Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) for the CO2 stored in mine tailings.

ACCUs are trading at about $35 per metric ton of CO2. That means BHP can claim up to $1.4 million carbon credits each year. And it can be more if the firm can enhance the tailings dam carbon mineralization process.

Once the framework is in place, it may also help attract more investments in carbon capture of mine tailings.

Scaling Up Carbon Mineralization

The Mineral Carbonation International had also proposed to use a similar process to store CO2 in building materials.

The group also seeks to commercialize the carbon mineralization process for storing CO2 in building materials. These include low carbon cement, concrete, and plasterboard.

In fact, billions of tons of mining and industrial wastes can provide hundreds of millions of CO2 removal each year. These include wastes from iron, steel, coal, and fertilizer productions.

Some large firms have been applying this carbon capture and storage process already. 

For instance, CarbonCure Technologies, a carbon removal tech company, offers solutions that allow concrete producers to use captured CO2 to make low-carbon mixes. The firm’s technology injects captured carbon into fresh concrete, locking up the carbon so it doesn’t return to the air.

Carbin Minerals from the University of British Columbia in Canada is also looking at this process. As one of the Musk-funded XPRIZE winners, this startup optimizes carbon removal in mine tailings via carbon mineralization. 

The firm developed proprietary technologies that speed up CO2 mineralization in ultramafic rocks. It has the potential for gigaton-scale capture and storage of CO2.

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DeepMarkit Announces Execution of LOI with Japan-based BloomX

DeepMarkit, focusing on minting credits into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to democratize access to the voluntary carbon offset market, has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Bloom X Alliance to form a referral arrangement.

Under the Arrangement, Bloom X will introduce and onboard carbon credit projects onto the blockchain through, DeepMarkit’s minting platform.

BloomX is a blockchain-based products and services company seeking to reduce cost, improve efficiency of international asset transfers, and invest in blockchain products/services.

It has an extensive network in the cryptocurrency community as its CEO is a member of the Crypto Valley Association, an independent, government-supported and world leading blockchain organization based in Switzerland,

By signing the LOI, DeepMarkit can expect to see more transaction volume due to users referred by BloomX that mint credits into NFTs. The company will also benefit from exposure to new carbon credit projects and more validation in the ASEAN carbon offset community through BloomX.

Under the LOI terms, BloomX will receive a fee for referring carbon projects to DeepMarkit. Also, both firms will perform due diligence and negotiate the terms of a definitive agreement to govern their Arrangement.

The Arrangement will be subject to applicable regulations, securities, corporate and tax laws, and any transaction may also be subject to TSX Venture Exchange approval.

The Arrangement will go along with Japan’s plan to have its first market for trading carbon emissions in the country through the partnership between the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan Exchange Group.

Both initiatives will help improve transparency in prices, encourage more companies to participate in the carbon market, and boost decarbonisation in the country.

Read the full News Release HERE

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LanzaTech’s Bacteria Carbon Capture Tech

Chicago-based, LanzaTech, has been recycling carbon emissions into products such as clothes, aviation fuel, fragrances, and perfumes.

Their patented CarbonSmart technology has shown how its carbon capture and conversion technology can do away with virgin fossil fuels to make things people use in their daily lives. 

The major products made by LanzaTech out of its carbon recycling technology include the following:

Chemicals (100+)
Fuels (SAF)

For every ton of CarbonSmart product made 2 tons of CO2 is removed.

Their scalable tech has the potential to produce >1 billion tons/year of CarbonSmart products from waste feedstock.

The company does that with its unique carbon conversion process below.

LanzaTech’s fermentation process uses rabbit-gut bacteria to ferment gas pollution (contains CO2) captured from factories and municipal solid waste.

The bacteria then transforms those wastes to make its proprietary blend of ethanol it calls Lanzanol.

Ethanol is a basic building block of many materials and it’s an alcohol that is blended with gasoline to lessen the fuel used by cars.

Converting the gas streams from various carbon sources into a workable material is similar to a traditional fermentation process. 

But unlike making beer where sugar is fed to the yeast to make ethanol, LanzaTech doesn’t use sugar. Instead, it feeds the organisms inside the reactor either CO or CO2.

Then the converted gas is safely stored, waiting to be used as raw material for making a new product. 

LanzaTech’s CEO, Jennifer Holmgren said that steel mills usually flare carbon monoxide (CO) and CO2 into the atmosphere. She then added that:

“LanzaTech runs a plant at a steel-mill site, to easily grab the carbon monoxide emissions and put them into a reactor, a process called gas fermentation. Then, a unique strain of bacteria inside the reactor devours the emissions and “poops out ethanol, basically.”

LanzaTech’s ethanol is the same as fossil-fuel derived ethanol chemically speaking. It is then sent to companies that source it in making other chemicals used in polyester fabrics, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and other sustainable products.

Carbon Capture Innovation and Scalability

With this innovative carbon conversion technology, LanzaTech has produced over 30 million gallons of ethanol since 2021. This corresponds to avoiding 150,000 metric tons of CO2 out of the air.

The carbon tech further aims to generate 100 million gallons by the end of 2023. And while their operating plants use only CO as source emissions, LanzaTech plans to expand and use CO2 as well.

In addition to its existing 2 commercial plants in operation, the firm has 7 more plants under construction. It is even planning to have 7 more engineering plants.

And to date, the company has over 1,115 patents granted worldwide with over 470 pending. It’s also working to make acetone and isopropanol, which should be ready in 2023.

LanzaTech also believes that it provides a profitable pathway to solving heavy industry’s carbon problems because of the following market advantages:

And a couple of LanzaTech’s partners are also thinking the same about the scalability of the company’s carbon technology.

The firm’s network of trusted partners and investors range from heavy industrial emitters to aviation companies and consumer brands.

There are several Global Fortune 500 companies that are deploying LanzaTech’s technology along with big investors in the space.

Total Energies converts the ethanol from LanzaTech into ethylene before polymerizing it into polyethylene that has the same technical characteristics as its fossil counterpart.

L’Oréal uses this polyethylene to make packaging for its products with the same quality and properties as conventional polyethylene.

Fashion Retailers Lululemon and Zara have partnered with them for sustainable clothing lines.

Steel company ArcelorMittal, Plastic firm Sekisui, Suncor Energy, and BASF are a few other companies investing to help scale up LanzaTech’s innovative process.

As seen below, LanzaTech’s SAF solution makes direct conversion of captured carbon to SAF possible.

With this technology, the carbon capture firm received $50 million in funding from Microsoft, adding to previous investments from Shell and many other energy companies and airlines. 

In the words of the company’s CEO,

“Fossil fuel is in everything we use, not just fuel or energy… dresses [SAF and other sustainable products] will show people that to decarbonize, we have to change where carbon in everything comes from.”

LanzaJet and SAF

Apart from a long list of CarbonSmart products, they have spun out a company “LanzaJet”  solely focused on producing sustainable jet fuel and additives for the aviation sector.

They already have partnerships in place with airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

In comparison with fossil fuel equivalent, LanzaJet offers the following performance when it comes to using CO2 waste and transforming it into SAF solution.

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Carbon Streaming Enters Canadian Deal to Make 100M Carbon Credits

Carbon Streaming partnered with Will Solutions for a carbon credits deal to ramp up its Sustainable Community Projects in Quebec and Ontario, Canada.

Carbon Streaming is an ESG principled firm that offers investors exposure to carbon credits, a key tool to achieving carbon neutral and net zero climate goals.

Will Solutions is an established operator of carbon projects.

Carbon Streaming Founder and CEO Justin Cochrane remarked on the agreement:

“We are delighted to announce our first Canadian carbon stream with Will Solutions… The Sustainable Community Projects are an excellent addition to our portfolio and highlight what Canadians can do to reduce emissions…”

The Projects enroll and reward members for greenhouse gas emission reductions through waste diversion, conversion, and energy efficiency initiatives. There’s also a plan to include reductions in the transport sector.

The Carbon Credit Streaming Deal

Carbon Streaming investment in Will Solutions gives the latter more funding to work with thousands more Canadian businesses. It will also allow the operator to enhance its capacity to securely and efficiently process billions of transactions.

The projects will reduce over 100 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. This reduction will produce also 100 million Verified Carbon Units (VCUs or carbon credits) over the next 10 years. Verra will verify and register the credits.

Over the term of the agreement, Carbon Streaming will receive 50% of the VCUs from the Projects which is up to 44.1 million carbon credits. The company will also have the option to renew the partnership for another 10 years.

Carbon Streaming is also to make an upfront deposit of up to US$20 million. The first installment of US$4 million was paid on closing. The additional payments (US$16 million) will be paid during projects’ implementation and enrollment milestones.

Will Solutions can expect to deliver about 425,000 to 525,000 VCUs in the latter half of 2023. The project operator can then scale it up to around 10 million carbon credits in 2030.

Will Solutions operates one of the biggest grouped projects in Canada. The operator has also been successful in generating carbon credits since 2010.

Buyers of those VCUs vary, including big corporations in Canada, major financial firms, pension funds, public agencies, industrials and food companies.

Methane Avoidance

The carbon credit pricing sold by Will Solutions ranged from 2x to 5x the GEO spot price for the last 3 months. And Carbon Streaming expects that carbon credits through the deal will continue to attract premium pricing versus the GEO price.

That’s due to the good location of the Projects. Also, the big chunk of emission reductions would be from their methane avoidance, which is about 70%.

Methane is the 2nd most abundant GHG, with more than 80x the global warming potential of CO2. Hence, reducing methane will also help limit near-term temperature rise.

The proceeds from the carbon credit deal will be for scaling up the Projects by adding to Will Solutions’ sales and marketing team. In turn, this will support new member enrollment and improve automation, monitoring and reporting.

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Urban Forest Carbon Credits: A Potential Market for Climate Investors

Cities and companies start to recognize how investing in trees is beneficial after the biggest single urban forest carbon credits purchase in US history.

A group of 13 organizations and government entities made a first-of-its-kind deal that bought all the city forest carbon credits available in the U.S.

Their urban forestry projects earned a total of over $1 million. The revenues will go back to supporting tree planting and management programs.

The landmark deal supports projects that are in communities reaching over 20 million Americans. The pilot projects were in Austin, Texas, and King County.

Market players said that the rising price of urban forest carbon credits shows that buyers are recognizing the immense value and benefits of city or urban forests.

What are Urban Forest Carbon Credits?

A carbon credit is a tradable permit that represents CO2 (or any equivalent greenhouse gas) removed from the atmosphere. A polluter can then buy the credit to offset or neutralize its carbon emissions.

Forestry-related carbon credits are one of the common offset options available in the market today. Yet, some climate activists criticize them for allowing big firms to greenwash.

But urban forest carbon credits are a more novel option. Many people believe their benefits offer a fresh and different kind of value that is more than just protecting trees.

They also help improve the quality of air and mental health of the population residing in the cities. These benefits contribute to the much higher price of the credits compared to global forest carbon credits.

According to Regen Network, the price per credit was between $34 – $45 per metric ton of CO2.

In contrast, the price for global forest credits can be lower than $10 per credit.

As for Kathleen Farley Wolf, manager of King County Forest Carbon Program:

“That price is really a signal that these kinds of projects are highly valued and that there’s recognition that doing urban forest projects is expensive; cities are expensive, suburbs are expensive.”

With the recent rise in corporate net zero pledges, the demand for urban forest carbon credits will also grow as projected by the City Forest Credits (CFC).

CFC is a registry organization based in Seattle that manages, promotes, and issues urban forest carbon credits. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated solely to urban forest carbon. It developed carbon protocols for tree planting and tree preservation projects in cities and towns.

The protocols set rules governing specifics like the location and duration of a project and how the carbon will be quantified.

These new credits are exclusive for the urban environment and the unique challenges and possibilities it has. And so they differ from traditional carbon credits.

The price and negotiation process occurs between the credit buyer and local operator. This is how this carbon credit program works:

Buyers can buy verified carbon credits directly from local operators to offset their emissions and bring more trees for communities.

Carbon Capture with Urban Forests

Between 2010 and 2060, urban land is estimated to increase another 95.5 million acres to 163.1 million acres (8.6%). Also, 18 states are projected to have an increase of over 2 million acres.

Urban forests, like any forests, help address climate change by capturing and storing CO2. They also help heat and cool buildings.

In the US alone, urban trees store over 708 million tons of carbon. This is equal to about 12.6% of annual CO2 emissions in the country.

Urban forests also capture an additional 28.2 million tons of carbon (0.05% of annual emissions) annually.

More interestingly, the value of urban forest carbon sequestration is huge. That’s around $2 billion per year with a total carbon storage value of more than $50 billion.

Potential for Market Growth

The potential of urban forest carbon credits in both fighting climate change and benefiting cities is huge. But there are also some barriers to beat for this carbon credit program to grow. These include:

limited awareness of urban forests and their ability to offer carbon credits,
a lack of binding requirements to participate, and
local governments’ minimal capacity to grow such programs

Yet, the widely recognized benefits of urban forests can be a catalyst for attracting more investments. For instance, extreme heat and poor air quality are going to make the credits even more valuable and bankable.

Right now, participation in this carbon credit market remains voluntary. But more climate commitments from companies and governments can help propel market growth.

As per Jad Daley, CEO of American Forests:

“Urban forests stand at the center of carbon removal, social equity, public health, biodiversity, and positive community impacts where millions of people live, work, breathe, and recreate… These credits are a critical step toward financing equitable city forests for everyone.”

The urban forest carbon credits aim to quantify not only the carbon capturing benefits of urban trees. They also include rainfall interception, energy savings from cooling and heating effects, and air-quality benefits.

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Agricultural Carbon Credits and Carbon Farming Guide

There is a long list of sources of carbon emissions, and agriculture is one that may be hard for many people to believe.

After all, what does agricultural farming has to do with global warming? A lot.

This article will explain what are carbon credits in agriculture. It will also identify the ways how farmers or ranchers can generate agricultural or soil-based carbon credits.

Carbon Farming Guide: What are Agricultural Carbon Credits?

Plants or crops form part of the entire carbon cycle. Growing almost any sort of plant is the same as practicing small-scale carbon sequestration. That’s because plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air during their photosynthesis.

When the plants die, their carbon-based structure begins to decay. Some of that CO2 is released into the air, and some of it is trapped underground.

Grasses and other crops draw down CO2 from the air quickly but they also tend to release it fast when they decompose. Yet, with proper soil carbon capture and farming practices like regenerative agriculture, they can sequester CO2 very well.

Here’s how soil captures carbon through a biological carbon sequestration cycle.

In carbon farming, carbon can be thought of as a crop similar to the other crops farmers produce on their farms or ranches. Agricultural practices give farmers the great potential to turn their farms’ carbon sequestration into cash with carbon credits.

Carbon credits are a medium of exchange used to “offset” CO2 emissions under the Cap and Trade guidelines set by the Paris Agreement.

The idea is that companies responsible for emitting CO2 have to reduce their emissions (cap) or pay for the efforts of farmers or others who can prove they are doing the work of removing CO2 from the air (trade).

In particular, carbon credits are created based on the amount of carbon you draw down into the soil. And so the GHG emissions you reduce above the soil. It can be an improvement in nitrogen timing, for instance.

Essentially, carbon credits operate like crops in some ways. If you produce corn to sell, the buyer will want to know the quantity and quality. Only by satisfying the information needed by the buyers you can sell them your agricultural produce.

They have to weigh your corn and test it for quality so they can be confident in your product.

Similarly, carbon credits measure and track the quantity of carbon sequestered in the soil and the corresponding GHG emissions reduced.

Ways to Produce Soil-Based Carbon Credits

There are various opportunities to generate carbon credits in agriculture. But before that, let’s explain what soil carbon capture is all about.

Soil Carbon Capture

Soil carbon capture or sequestration happens when plants capture and store, or “sequester,” atmospheric CO2 in the soil. This increases the quantity of soil carbon stocks.

Decaying plant matter, along with the carbon it contains, becomes part of the soil for a period of time before it is broken down by microbes. It’s during decomposition when CO2 sequestered goes back into the atmosphere.

The length of time carbon stays in the soil before returning to the atmosphere varies. It depends on the climate, soil composition, and other factors.

For instance, disrupting the soil structure like converting forests and grasslands to farmland, can speed up the process of releasing much of the captured carbon. When this occurs, global warming heats up more.

On the other hand, agricultural practices like no-till farming and planting cover crops can slow the rate of soil carbon loss. They can even potentially increase soil carbon levels.

Studies say that the past 200 years of agriculture released over 100 billion metric tons of CO2 (GtCO2) from the soil into the atmosphere. That’s more than 3x as much carbon as all human activities emitted in 2019 (43.1 GtCO2).

There has been a lot of buzz in the ag sector about voluntary carbon markets. In this market, farmers or ranchers can sell a carbon credit to investors for every metric ton of carbon that their land sequesters.

The carbon market creates new revenue streams for farmers that were not there before. This incentivizes them to transition to sustainable farming practices and adopt regenerative agriculture.

On the buyer side, companies, governments, and other entities buy carbon credits for around $15–$20/ton of carbon to offset their own emissions.

This can be done voluntarily (as offsets) to meet their emissions reduction goals. Or farmers can sell credits to entities in the regulatory market (cap-and-trade system) with reductions mandated by laws.

While soil carbon capture can work in different ways, some practices are proven to deliver amazing results. Let’s talk about regenerative farming first and how it can give farmers or ranchers carbon credits.

What is Regenerative Farming?

Many conventional industrial farming practices cause global warming and severely damage natural ecosystems.

Over-farming, too many chemical inputs, and mono-crops are contaminating and depleting water sources. They also cause soil erosion and destroy habitats. In fact, these farming practices are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity.

Worst case scenario is how they cause desertification that makes the Earth barren.

In Europe alone, researchers found that an area twice the size of Portugal was at high risk of desertification. And the two key contributors to this are tillage and overgrazing.

The good news is that a new, yet very old method of farming, has been taking the sector by storm – regenerative farming.

Regenerative farming practices hand degraded land back to nature. They let ecosystems store planet-warming CO2 by using soil as a carbon sink, literally. This farming approach also helps boost wildlife and promote biodiversity.

Many regenerative farming methods follow the traditional ways of farming that were used for thousands of years. These include:

Reducing soil disturbance due to tillage (no-till farming)
Ending the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers through mob grazing and manure/compost
Maximizing soil coverage through living roots and mulching (covering the soil with mulch)
Promoting crop rotation by moving away from monocultures and growing cover crops, which improves biodiversity
Combining livestock rearing with crops and other plants

By creating grasslands, restoring peatlands, and growing cover crops, carbon can be captured and stored for a long time. Plus, regenerative farming encourages farmers to move away from government subsidies.

And the best part? Farmers can help prevent soil desertification while earning more with carbon credits.

Regenerative Farming and Carbon Credits

As farmers and ranchers embrace regenerative farming, their land goes from being a net-emitter of GHG to sequestering carbon. In other words, becoming a carbon sink.

The reduction or sequestration of CO2 by regenerative farming methods can lead to the creation of carbon credits. These credits are created and brought to market by project developers. They then sold the credits to big companies seeking to offset their own emissions while supporting farmers.

In return, farmers receive additional revenue for every ton of CO2 reduced or sequestered by their farmlands. There’s a catch, however. Farmers may claim to achieve certain carbon reductions or sequestration falsely.

This is why a third-party body has to measure and verify the claim by the farmers to ensure there’s indeed a reduction/sequestration that’s happening.

Soil tests, for instance, are one part of carbon credit programs. Validation of conservation practices is also done by way of federal crop records and field data.

On the buyers’ side, investors and companies like Cargill, JPMorgan Chase, Shopify, and Microsoft have committed to promoting farming methods that regenerate the soil by buying carbon credits from farmers.

Through various regenerative farming techniques, corporations can invest to improve soil health and help grow farmers’ income. They can support growers today and drive the regenerative agricultural revolution.

And on top of that is reducing GHG emissions significantly. The case of nitrogen emissions is another unique opportunity for farmers to earn carbon credits.

The Unpopular Concept of Nitrogen Carbon Credits

Various factors that affect nitrogen or nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions allow for many ways that farmers might tweak their practices to reduce emissions.

One way to do that is to place nitrogen with the right depth in the soil by opting for the no-till method. The goal is to reduce the amount of N2O that’s lost from the soil and go into the crop for better growth and more yield.

No-till is a farming practice that falls under regenerative agriculture. Remember that tilling also causes desertification. And so, no-till is a sought-after farming technique that can help reduce N2O emissions.

A researcher found that no-till reduces N2O emissions by 57% over chisel tilling, which mixes crop residue into the surface soil.

No-till and cover crops, which will be explained next, both help limit N2O emissions.

With the lifespan and effects of nitrogen on the atmosphere, the global warming potential of one ton of N2O is 296x that of one ton of CO2 emitted.

A carbon offset is standardized as a reduction in one ton (or 1000 kilograms) of CO2 emitted. That amount is equal to 3.38 kilograms of N2O emitted.

In theory, a grower can adopt no-till and other regenerative farming methods that reduce N2O emissions and determine how much of that emission is prevented. Then the farmer can get and sell the resultant carbon credits in a carbon market.

Carbon emissions trading schemes in the market enable companies to buy carbon offsets. They then account for and report those offsets as part of their regulated or voluntary emission reduction targets.

The same thing can happen if growers use cover crops.

Why Farmers Should Grow Cover Crops

Cover crops are different from the primary cash crop. They are planted without the intention of harvesting. That sounds not right but farmers can get plenty of benefits from doing that.

They protect the soil from erosion and improve nutrient conditions. They are grown to help keep the soil intact which would otherwise be bare against winds, rains and water, and even tillage.

Cover crops are becoming popular as the world fights climate change. In fact, they now account for about 22 million acres of land, up 43% from past years.

Popular examples of cover crops are barley, oats, legume, radishes, and rye. Some crops are converted into biofuel or fed to animals. But leaving them to break down in the soil is best for the environment because doing so can help the soil sequester carbon.

And so, cover crops boost the capacity of agricultural lands to draw down carbon emissions.

The potential of cover crops for carbon credits

It is estimated that 20 million acres of cover crops can sequester over 66 million tons of CO2 equivalent a year. This is equal to the emissions of about 13 million vehicles. And this rate increases when cover cropping is used along with no-tillage farming.

Cover crops enhance soil sequestration that also improves farm productivity and global atmospheric CO2 removal when done wide-scale.

This is why growing cover crops qualify farmers for a carbon offset program. It means the crops can make carbon credits and give farmers additional revenue.

More and more farmers are considering cover crops for the additional revenue potential from carbon credits.

Other benefits of cover crops include:

Increase yield
Improve soil health and water quality
Retain soil moisture
Increase organic matter in the soil
Reduce the need for herbicides and pesticides
Outcompete weeds

Lawmakers also recognize the role that cover crops play in reducing emissions by capturing and storing CO2 and N2O. In fact, the Biden Administration proposed $28 billion for land conservation programs. $5 billion of that is for farmers and landowners who plant cover crops.

Forecasts suggest that by 2030, around 40 to 50 million acres of land would be for cover crops. That corresponds to 132 – 165 million tons of CO2 sequestered.

So if one carbon credit (equals one ton of GHG removal) has the maximum price at the current rate ($20), that’s about $2.6 billion to $3.3 billion market opportunity!

For instance, if one farmer has a total amount of sequestered GHG of 22,745 metric tons across his acres, he can make carbon credits worth $341,175 (if the price is $15 per ton).

The chart below shows the potential of cover crops in slashing emissions in million metric tons of CO2eq by decade until 2050. It also plots the no-till farming emissions reduction capacity.

The Current State of Agricultural Carbon Credits Market

The agricultural carbon credits market consists of two largest players: speculators and pilot-project developers.

Speculators expect a remarkable growth in carbon markets in the next few years. They’re investors who try to contract as many acres as they can to trade as many carbon credits as possible.

On the other hand, pilot-project developers are the ones who connect with growers or agribusiness partners. They act as intermediaries between producers and buyers of carbon credits with agriculture projects.

Both of them share the common goal of using carbon credits to promote sustainable farming practices while reducing emissions.

Ag Carbon Market in Canada

In Canada, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change developed the Federal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Offset Credit System.

Canada’s carbon credit markets provide the largest opportunities in the world for farmers to participate. Over 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions reduction are from agricultural carbon credit projects in Alberta alone.

The Alberta Emission Offset System covers agriculture, along with forestry and carbon capture and storage/carbon capture and utilization.

Alberta is one of the three Prairie provinces in which most of Canada’s crop farming happens. And though Alberta’s crediting system covers multiple sectors, most credits come from projects in the renewable energy and agriculture sectors.

Alberta specifies 19 offset protocols that can generate carbon offset credits. Three of them cover the generation of agricultural carbon credits, focusing on cropping systems, N2O emissions reduction, and livestock.

Canadian companies have developed expertise in agricultural emissions reduction. Building on this expertise, they’re now leading the development of advanced systems for quantifying and tracking agricultural emissions reduction.

In Alberta, the Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) credits went up to $50 a credit in 2022 (from $40 in 2021).


Ag Carbon Market in the US and Europe

In the U.S., the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 gives authority to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners take part in carbon credit markets.

It supports the development of a voluntary market for agriculture carbon credits from the prevention or reduction of GHG or carbon sequestration on agricultural lands.

In particular, the Act is to ensure that the USDA certification program remains relevant, credible, and responsive to the needs of farmers and other players in the carbon market.

The common voluntary programs in the country include:

2 carbon and ecosystem services credit entities (Ecosystem Services Market Consortium-ESMC and Soil and Water Outcomes Fund),
2 carbon credit entities (Indigo and Nori),
4 input suppliers (Agoro Carbon Alliance, Bayer, Corteva, and Nutrien), and
3 data platforms (CIBO Impact, Gradable, and TruCarbon).

A study suggested that the potential demand for agriculture carbon credits in the US is 190 million tons per year. It also estimated the size of the US market for carbon credits at $5.2 billion per year.

Meanwhile, the other ecosystem services related to nitrogen and phosphorus management is $8.7 billion.

Despite limitations in upfront investments, large companies have plans to support agricultural carbon credits. Most of them are particularly after the regenerative farming practices on millions of acres of North American lands.

Some familiar names include General Mills, Cargill, McDonalds, Target and Land O’Lakes.

European nations also encourage farmers to shift to regenerative farming to reduce the sector’s GHG emissions. In fact, soil and agriculture plays a crucial role in the EU’s “Fit for 55” package.

But the bloc is still drawing up guidelines for recognizing and calculating credits in the carbon farming market by the end of 2022.

Once the EU regulation for carbon farming and emissions trading is ready, the goal is to cut 42 million tons of CO2 by 2030. Yet, the development of a framework for the market may take some time.

Still, the voluntary carbon market has been working already in the region. Agreena, in particular, is a Dutch startup that mints, verifies, and sells carbon credits generated by farmers who engage in regenerative agriculture.

Addressing the 2 Key Challenges

There’s no doubt that agricultural soil carbon capture and sequestration can help address climate change. Many studies back this up and billions of investments have been made in this space.

Yet, two major challenges remain that market players need to deal with: measurement and verification.

Carbon credits in agriculture and in other other sectors are only as real or valuable as the science and evidence underlying them. Rigorous standards for quantifying, monitoring, and verifying carbon offsets must be in place for the creation of agricultural carbon credits.

And so, international carbon certifiers exist to ensure highest standards when it comes to carbon credit measurement and accounting. Verra, Gold Standard, and Climate Action Reserve are some popular examples.

Their role is to set standards and guidelines on how to measure and verify carbon accurately and affordably. They see to it that there’s rigor and transparency in creating carbon credits in agriculture. Doing so will shed light on how the sector can help tackle climate change and bring confidence in the market.

Only through this that carbon market mechanisms can drive major investments into regenerative agricultural practices around the world.

And with the help of technology, investors can be confident in betting on farmers and in their lands to draw carbon from the air and do so verifiably.

After all, standards for agricultural carbon credits don’t need to be from the government. The markets can and will make their own standards.

Should you want to learn more about who verifies carbon credits, here’s the perfect article for that. And if you want to know more about carbon credits in general, here’s our ultimate guide.

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DeepMarkit Engages Quantstamp for Security Assessment Services

DeepMarkit focuses on transitioning the global carbon offset market to the more accessible digital economy by minting credits into non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, First Carbon Corp. (FCC), partnered with Quantstamp to provide security assessment services related to FCC’s platform over a 90-day period.

The key goal of the partnership is to enhance the platform’s codebase security.

To date, Quantstamp has protected over $200 billion in digital asset risk from hackers. It offers services including securing Layer 1 blockchains, securing smart contract powered NFT and DeFi applications, and developing financial primitives for Layer 1 blockchain ecosystems.

FCC’s obligations under the Agreement are to be responsible for providing access to personnel, content, resources, systems and information as may be needed by Quantstamp.

DeepMarkit’s engagement with Quantstamp aligns with its goal of ensuring the security of the for users and stakeholders.

It is also to enhance the global carbon offset credit and renewable energy certificate markets.

Read the Full News Release HERE

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