Carbon Credit Confusion

Jul 30, 2021

“We need more government oversight,” said… well, not a lot of people.

Except for the Environmental Defense Fund. They said it. And with the company they’ve been keeping lately, it’s likely that others agree.

The deets: The EDF released a report regarding agricultural soil carbon credits, and the message is clear: the carbon credit market needs better standards, and they’re asking the USDA to step in and provide guidance.

Some background: In the interest of climate change mitigation, many businesses are looking to agriculture to help them sequester their carbon and “offset” their CO2 emissions. And they’re looking in the right place.

A soundbite: “Agricultural soils could remove 4% to 6% of annual U.S. emissions,” noted Emily Oldfield, agricultural soil carbon scientist at EDF.

While the farm carbon credit sector continues to grow, the lack of protocols, plus the variation in definitions and standards has created a clustered mosaic of bewildering options for farmers and carbon emitters.

The report focuses on discrepancies in the purported usefulness of the carbon credit market, the permanence of storing carbon in the soil, and the definition of what constitutes a carbon credit.

Where this goes: It’s going to take a while for the market (and likely the government) to sort these issues out. Yet with the Senate passing the Growing Climate Solutions Act (a bill championed by both the EDF and the American Farm Bureau Federation) last month, governmental action may come sooner rather than later.