Soil Carbon Trading

Jack Edwards
By Jack Edwards

October 2021

Partner Jack Edwards explains the concept of sequestering carbon through soil management as a step farmers and landowners can take towards reducing their carbon footprint, bringing with it an opportunity for carbon trading.

Soil Carbon Trading

We are aware that the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) aims to achieve the goals of the ‘25 Year Environmental Plan’ and a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. The agricultural industry will face the challenge of producing low carbon sustainable affordable food in a world where the demand for food will increase. We expect to see opportunities to optimise soils being used as a natural system to lock carbon in the ground. Sequestering carbon through soil management presents an opportunity for the carbon to be sold on the open market but this is a new and developing market, still very much in its infancy.        

All businesses are likely to have their emissions measured and will be expected to offset their carbon footprint to reach net-zero status. This may bring about a change in land use where we see carbon credits being traded to benefit third parties on the premise that soils remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in turn helping reverse climate change. This in turn would see farmers being paid for the carbon they store by companies wanting to offset their emissions.      

Earlier in the year the tech giant Microsoft reportedly purchased half a million dollars’ worth of carbon credits from an Australian farm to offset their footprint, but what exactly might selling carbon look like? One would assume that as the ‘locked in’ carbon belongs to the purchaser it hands over the control to the buyer for the length of the agreement and it can’t simultaneously be used by the landowner to reduce the carbon footprint of the farm under any new agreements going forward.

The devil will be in the detail. Clearly there is still much work to be done on this subject but climate change will increasingly manifest itself in national and international policy decision making. Tread carefully into this relatively new world and seek advice before making a commitment. Granted this may present an opportunity for land that is less suitable for food production but be mindful of the longer term impact the opportunity may present. 

Contact Jack at Symonds & Sampson’s Salisbury office on 01722 334323 or our Rural Agents in your nearest Symonds & Sampson office to find out more

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