MARKET MECHANICS

Current Market List

Check out this list from the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership highlighting carbon markets available as of Summer 2021.

Ecosystem Market Information

COMMON MARKET MECHANICS QUESTIONS

  • Carbon registries currently exist to set standards for carbon offset markets from many industries, including agriculture, forestry, and waste management.
  • In the United States, Climate Action Reserve and Verra are two offset registries that allow agriculture projects to be registered.
  • Carbon registries set the standards and approve protocols that ensure
    permanence
    and
    additionality
    . They also approve models used to estimate carbon sequestration.
  • Additionality is a foundational principal of carbon markets. Greenhouse gas emissions are additional if they would not have occurred in absence of a market that offered credits. If the carbon would have been sequestered anyway, without an opportunity for a credit to be produced, they are not considered additional.
  • Credit buyers are paying for a ton of sequestered carbon that would not have been sequestered if they had not paid for it.
  • This principal applies to credits generated by row crop agriculture as well as credits generated by other industries that can produce a carbon credit.
  • It depends on the credit buyer. A few companies have purchased lookback credits, which are carbon credits produced from past practices.
  • It also depends on the goals of the companies, whether that be carbon negativity (offsetting all of the CO2 emitted since the formation of that particular company) or carbon neutrality (reducing or offsetting all CO2 emissions starting at a certain time point and into the future).
  • Many markets have contracts between 5-10 years.
  • CO2 credit buyers, markets, and registries want to ensure that their investment in carbon offsets is keeping CO2 out of the atmosphere permanently, which is referred to as
    permanence
    .
  • Carbon markets and programs often commit to keeping the CO2 sequestered in the soil for 100 years across the entirety of the acres in their market.
  • Modeling – Models can be utilized to quantify the amount of CO2 different practice changes will sequester or trap in the soil. Many markets use some sort of model to estimate your carbon sequestration, which is why so much data is needed to enroll.
    • If you’re planning to enroll in a market, be sure to ask which model the market is using as some are public and some are private.
    • COMET Model
      • This USDA funded model is housed by Colorado State University and can be used by farmers for free.
      • It allows you to model your farms current carbon sequestration levels and the potential once new practices are implemented.
  • Satellites – Satellites are utilized to verify presence of cover crop or changes in tillage.
  • Soil sampling – Many carbon markets/programs soil sample either a subsample of fields in their program or all of the fields in their program to assess carbon levels in the soil. For programs that are working with a registry, the registry will approve the amount of fields in a program that are subsampled to ensure sampling integrity.

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