What Are Carbon Markets? Plus, in our green biz segment, it’s Indigo Agriculture. Germany steps up on biodiversity because the rest of the EU is lagging, and we check out the “Podship Earth” Podcast.
What Are Carbon Markets? Indigo Agriculture, Germany Steps Up On Biodiversity, Podship Earth Podcast
WHAT ARE CARBON MARKETS?
Carbon markets work like this: Say a farmer opts for techniques that suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil.
In a functioning carbon market, the farmer could sell what’s called a “carbon credit” for the stored carbon to a polluting company — say, an oil driller. The farmer gets a payment; the drilling company gets to boast a cut in its “net” emissions, earned with the payment, without having to change its own practices. Such credits can be flaunted to appease the growing set of shareholders demanding that polluting companies cut their emissions; or simply to generate good PR as the ravages of climate change pile up. The goal of such agricultural “offsets,” as they’re known, is to incentivize climate-friendly farm practices.
Private carbon markets for agriculture already exist, but they have not exactly taken farm country by storm. The most prominent one, run by a company called Indigo Agriculture has so far managed to enroll farms representing 2.7 million acres into its program, Reuters recently reported. That’s a tiny fraction of U.S. farmland; the four most prolific U.S. crops — corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton — cover about 239 million acres. Genetically modified seed and pesticide giant Bayer Crop Sciences (formerly Monsanto) runs a rival carbon program; and a cluster of Big Food and Big Ag companies, including McDonald’s, Cargill and General Mills, plans to roll out yet a third, the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, in 2022.
So now you know. But why does this matter to us? Because scientists tell us converting just those 239 million acres from tilled to regenerative could sequester roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually.
DEEPER DIVE: Yale360, OECD, Wikipedia
The private sector is springing into action!! Last June, Indigo Ag announced its plan to sink a teraton (that’s 1 trillion metric tons) of carbon dioxide into cropland around the world. Farmers who tend at least 300 acres and were enrolled in Indigo Ag’s carbon marketplace by the end of last year would be guaranteed $15 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide they capture. Companies hoping to offset emissions associated with activities like business travel, energy production, and data storage—or at least seeking a greener image—will be able to purchase credits on Indigo Ag’s carbon exchange for a yet-to-be-determined price.
And why does this matter to us?
Indigo Ag’s entrepreneurs think a private marketplace will incentivize the adoption of regenerative agriculture by recalcitrant farmers. Carbon markets that reward growers for “ecosystem services,” as they’re known, aren’t new, but they haven’t taken off in the US. In 2003, the Chicago Climate Exchange became the country’s first voluntary and legally binding cap-and-trade market. But it collapsed in 2010 after a sudden surplus of offset credits caused their value to crash. California’s state-run cap-and-trade market provides farmers with grants to support climate-friendly practices. Whether they will or won’t, remains to be seen. As always, we at The Climate Daily will keep you posted.
DEEPER DIVE: IndigoAg, OECD, ecosystem marketplace, CNBC
GERMANY STEPS UP ON BIODIVERSITY
Germany helped launch a new billion-dollar fund recently to tackle rapidly depleting global biodiversity, as other developed nations missed key land and marine conservation targets but prepare to ramp up efforts in the decade ahead.
The United Nations hopes to secure an agreement at the next Biodiversity Convention meeting in China in October to protect and conserve 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030.
“The concept of ’30 by 30′ is quite a big political ask, but we need these kinds of targets because they are a perfect way to harness political will,” said James Hardcastle, a conservationist at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), referring to the campaign by its tagline.
Germany is making headway through The Legacy Landscapes Fund, (LLF) an ambitious new financing instrument aimed at protecting the world’s most outstanding natural places and closing the funding gap for biodiversity conservation in the Global South. It is a joint initiative by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW Development Bank (KfW), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Campaign for Nature (CfN), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
DEEPER DIVE: Convention on Biological Diversity, Reuters, SolarBotanic
PODSHIP EARTH PODCAST
Jared Blumenfeld is a serious guy. He is currently the California Secretary for Environmental Protection appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom. From 2009 to 2016, he served under former President Barack Obama as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Pacific Southwest. He also served as the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, chaired the first United Nations World Environment Day held in the US, and founded the Business Council on Climate Change and Green Cities California.
Which also makes him a knowledgeable guy. And that’s why he has a podcast. He’s serious about the environment, and he knows a lot of seriously earnest people serious about the environment who want to tell you that, too.
So far, Jared’s interviewed over 110 climate change subject matter experts. Each podcast episode is theme-based and worth the listen. My current favorite is episode 104, ReUse, featuring Ida Belisle, Ed Dunn, Kevin Drew and Max Weschler.
Hey, do you think he’ll give us a shout out on his podcast??
DEEPER DIVE: PodShip Earth