Market-Based Carbon Trading Systems for California Agriculture
If farmers can sell carbon credits ("offsets") for trapping, reducing or storing greenhouse gases, they will have a powerful incentive to make the necessary operational changes and investments.
A key concept within California's climate protection law (Assembly Bill 32) and the international Kyoto Protocol is establishing a "cap and trade" system. This combines a government-defined limit on total greenhouse gas emissions (the cap) with market mechanisms. California farmers have some of the best opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases. However, they are not currently subject to a carbon cap within the framework of California's law or proposed national legislation.
Opportunities for row crop farmers to reduce and store greenhouse gas emissions profitably include:
- Carbon storage, such as capturing more carbon in the soil by using cover crops.
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with cultivation practices, such as using fewer tractor passes to prepare the soil for planting.
- Capturing and converting methane gas in a digester to produce renewable energy.
Sustainable Conservation is actively involved in developing an effective carbon offset system for California agriculture, which we believe can inspire a significant reduction in agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions. By uniting stakeholders and forging consensus on core issues, we are advancing an important new market mechanism. That, coupled with our outreach to farmers, enables California farmers to help slow climate change in ways that are both practical and profitable.
We are collaborating with 16 grower associations to:
- Identify the key technologies and practices that can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions;
- Develop a coherent method of evaluating farming practices across a variety of ecosystems.
At the same time, we are working to develop consistent, verifiable standards for agricultural emission reductions.