Carbon marketing and fight against climate change

Boxed Water

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, financing more sustainable practices, such is the idea underlying the carbon market in which agriculture participates. A challenge that involves setting up robust methodologies to measure and monitor the carbon sequestered in agricultural or forest soils before validating the societal initiatives in which INRAE ​​is engaged, from research to support for public policies and projects. private, across France and internationally

Faced with climate change, agriculture, if it emits greenhouse gases, can also be a lever in terms of mitigation, by limiting greenhouse gas (or GHG) emissions or by sequestering carbon in soils through more virtuous agricultural practices.

A potential that INRAE ​​has made its own and detailed for us by Suzanne Reynders, project manager for the scientific director of Environment and the vice-president of International INRAE.

Storing carbon in agricultural soils

Launched by France on December 1, 2015 during COP 21, the international ” 4 per 1000 ” initiative, of which INRAE ​​is a partner, aims to increase carbon sequestration, through the implementation of agricultural practices (eg. agroecology, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, landscape management, etc. adapted to local conditions. It invites its partners to publicize or implement concrete actions on carbon storage in soils and the practices to achieve this.

Carbon market: meeting societal demand in relation to climate change and demonstrating how agriculture can be a solution

In 2019, INRAE ​​conducted a collective scientific expertise on the carbon storage potential of French agriculture , at the request of Ademe and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. In particular, it ranks the measures that can be implemented with an estimate of their costs and acts as a reference in the Institute’s exchanges with the socio-economic world.

Recently, within the framework of a partnership with the international initiative PlanetA, additional work has been undertaken . They include a national component, which consists of re-using the data from the 4 p. 1000 to assess the correlation between the duration of soil cover and the storage of carbon in the soil, and an international component, the objective of which is to quantify by remote sensing, at the global level, the duration of soil cover, at the scale of the agricultural plot, by annual crops.

On a European and international scale, the Circasa project – in English, Coordination of International Research Cooperation on Soil Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture (EU, 2017-2021), coordinated by INRAE ​​aims to develop international synergies around research and exchange of knowledge in the field of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils at European and global level. As an extension, the setting up of an International Soil Carbon Research Consortium is under study.

Offset carbon emissions

From 2018, France has committed to the implementation of a so-called voluntary carbon market, with a view to achieving the climate objectives decided at COP21. A commitment to which INRAE ​​contributes through its expertise.

The State, through the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, supports this approach through a certification framework for methods that make it possible to quantify the quantities of carbon avoided or sequestered: the Low Carbon Label , launched in 2019   . -cl aims to promote voluntary projects to reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon in soils and biomass, in particular forests and trees. Once labeled, these projects can claim compensation for the tonnes of CO 2equivalent avoided or sequestered by companies, communities or voluntary citizens who want to offset their emissions. INRAE ​​contributes to the development of methods for calculating carbon credits (eg for livestock – Carbon Agri method, hedges, orchard plantations, field crops).

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food also supports this approach through “good carbon diagnostics”. This measure offers newly established farmers the possibility of carrying out a diagnosis and implementing a carbon action plan for their farm. A call for projects , in the preparation of which INRAE ​​was associated, is in progress.

In Europe, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (or EIT) brings together several knowledge and innovation communities, including EIT ClimateKIC (in English, Knowledge and Innovation Community ), which supports the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Suzanne Reynders has been the linchpin for INRAE ​​for several years and, since October 2020, a member of the Board of Directors It contributes in particular to the construction of projects and collaborations, with partners of EIT ClimateKIC to work on adaptation and mitigation of climate change through agriculture (e.g. Friendly Fruit project, coordinated by INRAE).

Quantify the quantities of sequestered carbon and monitor their evolution

Estimating and monitoring over time the quantities of carbon sequestered in the soil… it is necessary to have measurement methods that are reproducible, reliable and transparent and to set up support measures for the players in this transition. The Institute is strongly involved in this dynamic, working to develop knowledge and contribute to the exchange of know-how. It brings its expertise to the development of territorial demonstrators of carbon sequestration in soils .

In a recent study conducted with funding from Ademe, Suzanne Reynders and her colleagues explore methodologies intended to measure additional carbon storage in soils, i.e. the carbon newly stored in soils through practices adapted, and analyze the economic models likely to accompany it.

Satellite imagery has a very important role in quantifying additional carbon storage in soils. Work carried out at the Center for Biosphere Studies ( CESBIO ), with which INRAE ​​has been associated since 2018, is at the heart of the “  Naturally Popcorn  ” project, of which INRAE ​​is a partner. The goal is to remunerate popcorn corn producers for their positive impact on the environment and the climate. Located in the South-West, it is a stakeholder in the European Carbon Farming project , of which it is one of the pilots.

Initiated in 2019 and supported by the EIT Climate-KIC, Carbon farming uses a systems approach to increase carbon sequestration in the soil, while taking into account the needs of multiple stakeholders and partners, as well as the local context. It networks demonstration sites in Europe and promotes the sharing of experiences on agricultural practices, measurement tools and financing or insurance conditions: in other words, the conditions for a favorable environment. for the scaling up of these demonstrators.

And tomorrow ?

For the Institute, the challenge of the carbon market is to respond to societal demand around climate change. Agriculture is one of the solutions and the carbon market, the cornerstone of a European energy-climate policy, is one of the ways of reducing GHG emissions and combating climate change. In this dynamic, the files that Suzanne Reynders carries as the functions that she fulfills, fit into the overall approach of the Institute on the adaptation and mitigation of climate change in agriculture, at the national level. , European and international.

Research, training, support for public policies… INRAE ​​accompanies the ministries in the procedures by putting its expertise at the service of the development of the methods of tomorrow, which will make it possible to change scale, as are the certification frameworks. On the strength of its participation in numerous European projects and initiatives, the Institute is now taking part in the reflection on a European low-carbon label.

A roadmap commensurate with the challenges that research must meet in the face of climate change.


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