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Blaston Regenerative Farming: Healthy soils store more carbon

By News

Regenerative agriculture holds powerful climate mitigation potential. These methods simultaneously improve soil health and help sequester atmospheric carbon, proving that farming can be a solution to – not a driver of – climate change.

Recognising the urgent need for both, Philipson Estates and project developer, ecometric, have introduced regenerative agriculture practices to Blaston Farm in Leicestershire, England. With the support of independent agronomists, Indigro Ltd, 230 hectares are now being farmed regeneratively.

To improve soil health and promote biodiversity, Blaston Farm uses a range of regenerative techniques. These include direct drilling, introducing diverse crop rotations and integrated livestock grazing – all of which help to capture and store additional carbon in the soil. 

From this additional carbon, the project generates soil carbon certificates. Blaston Regenerative Farming is the first project in the UK to earn certificates by directly measuring soil organic carbon gains over a production cycle. Today, the sale of these certificates is the farm’s second largest income stream and provides an alternative to EU subsidies in a post-Brexit Britain. Recently, the project was validated by the Regen Network meaning that Blaston Farm’s soil carbon certificates will be followed by carbon credits – a significant milestone for establishing widespread credibility for soil carbon projects.

The secret of soil

While we tend to recognise the role of the oceans and trees in carbon capture, we often forget the huge potential of the soil beneath our feet – the top 30 cm of the Earth’s soil holds nearly twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.

However, as with trees, we must not take soil’s ability to capture carbon for granted. The changing climate poses a serious threat to carbon-rich topsoil. Degradation limits its ability to capture and store carbon, which in turn, reduces agricultural output. As the global population exceeds eight billion, maintaining (and increasing) the production capacity of soil is critical for future food security. 

With so many mouths to feed, it is understandable that much of the world has turned to intensive agriculture and monocropping over the past decades. However, this approach is short-sighted. We cannot endlessly strip the Earth’s soil of nutrients without consequence. We need to harness alternatives that ensure healthy soils and high yields for the long term. 

Positive impacts for climate and nature

Since transitioning to regenerative agriculture, Blaston Farm sequestered 5,000 tonnes of CO2e (net of all on farm emissions, plus a permanence buffer) in just one year. If we tap into soil’s immense potential, it can contribute significantly to climate mitigation. In addition to carbon removal, the project contributes to mitigation by:

1. Soil health

The starting point for the project was to focus on minimising soil disturbance. Heavy cultivations and ploughing had led to a reduction in soil organic matter. Direct drilling was introduced at Blaston Farm after the first cover crop was established. All arable crops are now direct drilled, leading to a reduction in emissions, reduced soil erosion and an overall increase in soil health.

2. Building resilience

Healthy soil makes for a more biodiverse ecosystem with greater resilience against the climate crisis. On Blaston Farm, this is visible through a 7-fold increase in its worm count (a strong indicator of soil health). In turn, this has created a more stable soil structure and improved the farm’s drainage and nutrient cycling.

3. Carbon sequestration

Soil left exposed to the elements will erode and potential plant nutrients leach into watercourses. Permanently covering the soil using a range of species allows the soil to be protected and helps the build-up of soil organic matter. The cover not only protects the soil, reducing CO2 release, but the cover crop also draws down carbon from the atmosphere. 

4. Boosting biodiversity

To maintain natural ecosystem diversity, regenerative agriculture uses diverse crop rotations. As well as this, Blaston Farm reintroduced livestock into its arable rotations. The livestock improve the nutrient balance of the soil, while grasses encourage soil health and reduce weed burden. Blaston Farm has also piloted habitat strips to support predators and reduce pesticide usage.

5. Improved yields with fewer fertilisers

Catch crops allow green cover between harvest and autumn drilling. Companion crops and permanent understories such as white clover reduce the need for insecticides and herbicides. These leguminous plants fix nitrogen in the soil so it is plentifully available for the main cash crop.  

6. Preventing pollution

Agricultural run-off transports nitrogen-rich fertilisers directly into nearby rivers and lakes. Once in the water, nitrogen contributes to a phenomenon known as eutrophication which presents as a green, film-like layer of algae covering the water’s surface. This prevents sunlight from reaching below the water’s surface which is detrimental for fish and aquatic plants. 

However, when soil is healthy, it requires fewer fertilisers to generate large yields meaning fewer nitrates are washed into the surrounding waterways. Improving soil health on agricultural land benefits the health of aquatic ecosystems too. 

Setting a regenerative precedent

Soil carbon certificates now make up a large proportion of Blaston farm’s income, second only to wheat. At the same time input costs have decreased without any reduction in yield. This demonstrates how accessing carbon finance can be an economically viable option for farmers in the UK. Payment for measured increases in soil organic carbon provides a strong incentive for more farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture approaches in the near future.

Assurance

The Blaston Regenerative Farming project has been advised by Indigro Ltd and Fisher German. Informed by these leading specialist agronomists, the project operates with a high degree of assurance in its nature positive outcomes. 

Verification 

Independently verified by ecometric, the project demonstrates a proven commitment to high standards. ecometric carried out detailed soil analysis across all fields in the project area before the start of the 2021 growing season. It then repeated the measurement a year later to quantify the precise volume of carbon dioxide absorbed over the production cycle. These results were then cross-checked using ecometric’s satellite imagery AI analytics. The total farm emissions, including permanent pasture and animal production, were then subtracted from the carbon gain in the arable soils. This revealed that Blaston Farm was indeed climate-positive and had sequestered a net volume of 5,000 tonnes of CO2e over the course of the year. 

Additionality

Without this project, thousands of tonnes of CO2 would still be present in the earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, the soil at Blaston Farm is in a better state of health following the implementation of regenerative agricultural methods, as evidenced by observed improvements across a number of key indicators (soil organic carbon against the baseline at the project’s start date, structure, worm count etc.). This has created additional co-benefits for biodiversity that work to build the overall resilience of the farmland ecosystem against degradation and erosion. 

Permanence

While reversals of soil carbon gains are possible, it is a slow and uncommon phenomenon. Even if land is mismanaged for a year (e.g. it is overgrazed or crops are not rotated), carbon that has previously been sequestered is not re-released. It would simply mean that no additional carbon could be drawn down in that production cycle. The economic incentives offered by soil carbon certificates directly support the engagement in regenerative agriculture, mitigating capital investment and perceived risks associated with the adoption of new approaches. Philipson Estates have committed to refrain from practices which disturb the soil over a ten-year permanence period, throughout which they will be subject to ongoing monitoring to verify that soil organic carbon levels have been maintained. Over this period, it is anticipated that regenerative practices will become embedded as the farm experiences the benefits of healthier soils, including yields achieved and lower input costs (such as fertiliser or pesticides) that are also positive in terms of profitability.

Blue Carbon: Chris Villiers and Nadeem Khan join Argus Media’s podcast

By News

Tune into a new podcast episode. It’s all about blue carbon.

Argus Media interviews Chris Villers, our Director of Portfolio Management and Nadeem Khan, founder and CEO of Indus Delta Capital. In this episode, they share their extensive blue carbon expertise, discussing how these nature-based projects differ from other, natural climate solutions. 

Indus Delta Capital develops one of our flagship portfolio projects, Delta Blue Carbon. As the largest blue carbon project in the world, it conserves and restores 350,000 hectares of mangrove forest in southeastern Pakistan.

Chris and Nadeem explain how mangroves capture and store more carbon than any other type of tree. As such powerful carbon sinks, Delta Blue Carbon’s mangrove restoration efforts contribute to global climate mitigation. The project will sequester 142 million tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere over its lifetime.

Listen to the episode here

Delta Blue Carbon: The world’s largest mangrove project

By News

Mangrove forests hold a powerful climate mitigation potential. These coastal trees remove three to five times more CO2 per hectare than upland tropical forests. This is just one reason why the project developer, Indus Delta Capital, and the Government of Sindh are committed to restoring and conserving Pakistan’s mangroves.

Since 2015, Delta Blue Carbon has been protecting and restoring tidal river channels and mangrove forests on the southeast coast of Sindh, near Karachi. With a project area spanning 350,000 hectares, Delta Blue Carbon is the world’s largest blue carbon project.

The deforestation problem

This richly diverse landscape provides critical ecosystem services. It sustains productive fisheries, serves as an important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds and supports local people, many of whom make a living from collecting shellfish and crabs. More than 42,000 live within the project zone and 60 coastal villages directly depend on the mangrove forests. 

But despite the clear long-term value of the delta’s mangroves, the area has seen deforestation on a massive scale. Before the project activities started, the region was in a vicious cycle – many people lived in poverty and lacked access to education, clean energy and clean water. Faced with such deprivation, many had little choice but to cut mangroves for fuelwood or to clear coastal forests to make way for grazing. 

To counter the region’s deforestation, Delta Blue Carbon is growing mangrove saplings throughout the delta. All species used in the restoration work under the project are native to the coastal areas of Sindh.

To date, more than 90,000 hectares (of a planned 220,000) have already been planted. The project expects to remove 142 million tonnes CO2 from the atmosphere. From these efforts, it will generate more than 128.5 million high-quality, nature-based removal credits over its 60-year lifespan. 

The market-based solution

The income from carbon credit sales will be spent on addressing the underlying drivers of degradation by providing jobs, education, clean water and clean energy facilities to people in need in Karachi. Delta Blue Carbon is determined to help the area transition from a vicious, to a virtuous cycle – one in which restoring the landscape brings greater economic certainty. 

The project will create 21,000 full-time jobs. Employees will receive specialist training and capacity building for project staff, communities and local NGOs. The non-carbon benefits to local people have been valued at $134, for every tonne of carbon removed from the atmosphere.

Adaptation and mitigation

Mangroves are amongst the most productive marine ecosystems on Earth. Collectively, the wood and soil of mangrove forests along the world’s coastlines hold three billion tonnes of carbon.

Yet, mangroves provide more than pure carbon sequestration. Dense networks of mangrove roots help limit the damage caused by tsunamis and floods by reducing wave energy and shielding coastal communities from the full destructive forces of storms. Long-term, mangrove forests are also a natural barrier against coastal erosion. 

On a busy coastline like Karachi’s, mangroves’ ability to clean pollutants from the water is particularly useful. These forests are essential for maintaining water quality as they filter and trap sediments, heavy metals and other pollutants in their roots. By revitalising the delta’s coastal habitat, the project generates substantial climate change adaptation and mitigation benefits for the region.

Without Delta Blue Carbon, this restoration and conservation work would not have been possible. A lack of governmental capacity was preventing the kind of ground-up change required to transform Sindh’s mangroves. Today, we see the regeneration of Karachi’s mangrove success story as a true testament to local efforts and the power of private capital to drive environmental action.

Burapha Agroforestry: A nature-based climate solution

By News

In the lush landscapes of Laos, you will find one of our flagship portfolio projects, Burapha Agroforestry. Since 2016, this nature-based project has been on a mission to demonstrate the mitigation potential of sustainable commercial forestry by restoring degraded lands to capture carbon from the earth’s atmosphere.

Nature-based climate solutions work with the natural world to limit the consequences of our global climate crisis. These projects conserve and restore ecosystems, including terrestrial forests, coastal mangroves and expansive grassland habitats. Burapha Agroforestry, as its name suggests, focuses on productive forests alongside the protection of conservation areas.

Burapha’s plantations are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council with plans to plant over 1,000 trees on each hectare of land inside a 60,000-hectare restoration zone. Do the maths; it’s an impressive ambition.

To ensure maximum impact, the project strategically focuses these restoration efforts on the most degraded areas in western and central Laos, working with local communities on leased land. Often, these are places that were previously used for intensive agriculture and where the soil is most depleted. 

In targeting sites of shifting cultivation, Burapha is systematically replacing intensive farming methods with sustainable agroforestry, which allows for intercropping and grazing until the trees reach maturity. The project has created 4,400 new full-time agroforestry positions and significant casual labour opportunities. In this way, the project creates new employment prospects for local people while simultaneously supporting global climate mitigation efforts.

When planted to full capacity, Burapha’s trees are expected to remove more than 28,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, every year. The project also considers the need for a biodiverse landscape with 12,000 hectares of land designated specifically for conservation, providing a sanctuary for numerous native species including gibbons, Asiatic black bears, and the critically endangered pangolin. 

As the world grapples with an escalating climate crisis, Burapha Agroforestry is an innovative, nature-based climate solution. Not only does the project provide urgently needed carbon sequestration, but it also supports the conservation of remaining forests in the area. It creates alternatives to deforestation, deploys protection areas to enhance ecology and promotes socio-economic development in Laos. There’s no doubt – we need nature to ensure a liveable future for all.

PRESS RELEASE: Spinnaker Capital makes strategic investment in carbon finance pioneer Respira International

By News

London – December 22, 2023, Spinnaker Capital, a prominent emerging markets investment management firm, announced a proprietary strategic investment, alongside existing investor Capricorn’s Sustainable Investment Fund, in Respira International, the impact-driven carbon finance business.

Investment Overview

Since its establishment in 1999, Spinnaker Capital has been a pivotal player in the evolution of emerging markets financial instruments. 

Respira operates with an innovative offtake and profit share model which reinvests back into project stakeholders. Respira’s high-quality carbon credits allow corporations and financial institutions to mitigate their environmental impact. Respira channels private capital into climate solutions ensuring long-term relationships with trusted carbon project developers that enable its clients to build sustainable, climate-positive businesses and portfolios. 

Strategic Implications

This investment reflects Spinnaker Capital’s commitment to the environment and its recognition of a strategic market opportunity. It marks a significant step in the firm’s sustainability journey and positions it to capitalize on the burgeoning voluntary carbon credit market. The collaboration envisages combining Spinnaker’s financial acumen with Respira’s innovative carbon finance strategies, promising future synergies and expanded market opportunities.

 The investment will also allow Respira to access core emerging markets, including Brazil where Spinnaker Capital has a physical presence, as well as providing additional funds to enhance new deal capacity and enable the on-boarding of large corporations and financial institutions.

Statements from Principals

Alexis Habib, founding principal of Spinnaker Capital, remarked: “These projects are beneficial for the environment and for communities in our strategic focus areas – the emerging markets. The voluntary carbon markets today are reminiscent of the EM financial markets of three decades ago, characterized by limited liquidity and lack of standardization. This investment allows us to apply our skills and experience to foster, and benefit from, the evolution of this market.”

Robert Schultz, partner at Capricorn, added: “We believe that the Respira team have the best voluntary carbon markets origination team. The addition of Spinnaker Capital as a strategic investor, with deep domain expertise in emerging markets, allows Respira to gain access to new markets and opportunities.”

Ana Haurie, Respira co-founder and CEO, said: “Scaling the carbon credit market is a prerequisite for any successful journey to Global Net Zero – there is no credible scientific pathway without it. This investment will help Respira reach more of the corporate institutions which hold the influence and – most importantly, the financial power – to deploy rapid and at scale solutions which support business efforts to decarbonise and turn the tide against climate change.”

 ENDS

Contact Respira

PRESS RELEASE: Respira announces intention to purchase up to 50,000 carbon removal credits from Capture6

By News

Press release: 29th November 2023

  • Expanding its global carbon removal and reduction initiatives, Respira adds the first direct air capture (DAC) project to its portfolio

 

LONDON, UK – 29 November – Respira, an impact-driven carbon finance business, has announced its intention to purchase up to 50,000 direct air capture (DAC) carbon credits from Capture6, a water-positive carbon removal company.

This will be Respira’s first investment in direct air capture technology and represents an expansion of its engineered carbon removals portfolio, following the signing of an MOU with BECCS (Bioenergy Carbon Capture & Storage) pioneer, Drax, as the business builds on its market leading nature-based portfolio. 

Ana Haurie, CEO of Respira commented: “The voluntary carbon market is going to be vital if we are to tackle the climate crisis and we must use all of the tools at our disposal. This new agreement enhances our portfolio of nature-based projects that are reducing carbon emissions today, with an exciting new technological solution that will be an important part of removing carbon from the atmosphere into the future.”  

This pre-purchase will support Capture6’s groundbreaking project in the United Arab Emirates, where world leaders will meet later this month for COP28 in Dubai. Capture6’s technology integrates direct air capture while generating freshwater and has the potential to eliminate the disposal of excess brine into the fragile marine environment.

Capture6’s technology can deliver significant additional decarbonization associated with green industrial chemical production. The processes can operate at ambient temperature, without any need for thermal energy, so the process can run on 100% renewable energy. This enables Capture6’s technology to yield high net negativity for carbon removal and drives scalability and cost efficiency. Given these synergies between desalination, carbon removal, and decarbonization, the UAE represents a unique opportunity for Capture6 to demonstrate the full potential of its technology in delivering impactful climate solutions to the world. 

The CEO of Capture6, Dr. Ethan Cohen-Cole, expressed his enthusiasm about this offtake agreement: “Our partnership with Respira marks a pivotal step in realizing our vision of scalable, sustainable solutions for carbon removal. Together, we are not only mitigating the impacts of climate change but also pioneering innovations that contribute to the long-term well-being of our planet.”

United Arab Emirates could remove ~158 million tons of atmospheric CO2 by incorporating Capture6’s technology into its existing desalination facilities. Capture6’s innovative process has the added advantage of increasing the freshwater production capacity of existing seawater desalination plants by up to 50%. This industry promises significant economic growth and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in the country.

The pre-purchase of CDR credits by Respira shows clear support for Capture’s goal to decarbonize industries while at the same time reducing emissions and increasing freshwater supplies. Global temperatures have already risen 1.2°C from pre-industrial levels due to burning fossil fuels. According to the Paris Agreement, we need to keep global warming under 1.5°C to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Reaching that target is no longer possible by reducing emissions alone, a fact highlighted in the latest IPCC report. Permanent and irreversible carbon removal must be deployed at unprecedented speed and scale.

ENDS

 

About Respira

Respira International is an impact-driven carbon finance business. Respira operates with an innovative offtake and profit share model which reinvests back into project stakeholders.  Respira’s high-quality carbon credits allow corporations and financial institutions to mitigate their environmental impact. Respira channels private capital into climate solutions ensuring long-term relationships with trusted carbon project developers that enable its clients to to build sustainable, climate-positive businesses and portfolios. Respira’s team combines deep and varied experience working in global financial markets with a robust understanding of carbon project development in leading international conservation organisations.

For further information, please visit respira-international.com

About Capture6

Capture6 is a water-positive carbon removal company based in California and New Zealand leveraging its technology to support climate resilience and industrial decarbonization. The company develops and commercializes highly scalable approaches to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Capture6 is pioneering an approach that can be deployed today by repurposing existing industrial-scale technologies. Additionally, when coupled with desalination facilities, Capture6 can recover over 50% of freshwater from desalination waste brine for drinking and industrial purposes in the process of removing CO₂. This creates a meaningful synergy between carbon removal and water security. Learn more at capture6.org.

Removal in action: How Antti Vihavainen is growing the engineered carbon removal market

By News, Tech in Action

Antti Vihavainen is certain. He is sure that hope alone will not solve the climate crisis. For Antti, hope must always be accompanied by action if a true impact is to be made. It is on this firm belief that his company, Puro.earth, was founded in 2018. Ever since, Puro.earth has been actively expanding the tech-based carbon removals sector with a carbon crediting program dedicated to engineered carbon removal. 

Engineered carbon removal differs from nature-based carbon removal. Rather than investing in natural carbon sinks, such as forests and soil, engineered carbon removal uses technology to draw and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Methods including carbon capture and storage (CCS) and direct air capture (DAC) store the emissions they remove securely, often in vast underground geologic formations. 

In the past five years, Puro.earth has validated the technological removal activities of more than 50 companies and facilitated the sale of verified credits to corporate stakeholders to support their decarbonisation strategies. Here, Antti shares his motivations and reveals how Puro.earth is scaling the engineered carbon removal market.

Can you introduce yourself and explain why you decided to found Puro.earth?

In 2017, it became apparent to me. I realised the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) was already too high. Although I’ve always been interested in the climate, this was a pivotal moment for me. I realised that our emissions reduction efforts were simply not fast enough and that humanity faced an unprecedented, runaway climate catastrophe.

Yet, there was something else I recognised. While emissions soared, more and more research was being conducted into technological methods for removing carbon from the atmosphere. But something was missing – these engineered climate solutions were not being sufficiently commercialised. With the climate crisis at our door, I wanted to explore the commercialisation of tech-based carbon removal with the aim of facilitating the growth of new, net-negative carbon industries. So in 2018, I co-founded Puro.earth, the first carbon crediting program focused exclusively on technology-driven carbon removals.

Could you say more on the problem you seek to solve?

Puro.earth solves the very same issues that first drew me to the world of engineered carbon removal. With such extensive research into these technologies, I had identified a real need for commercialisation. So, first and foremost, Puro.earth is a platform dedicated to harmonising the climate effects of different carbon removal methods. In this way, Puro.earth assists in the overall scaling of engineered carbon removal. We want to help the removals market grow in efficiency and enable more companies to embark on a science-based pathway to reach a state of net-zero emissions. 

Since we launched, Puro.earth has pioneered several of the world’s first crediting methodologies for engineered carbon removal. While we bring together a range of removal activities, our criteria always remains the same. We look for methods which can be scientifically verified; that durably capture and store CO2 for 100+ years and which have the potential to scale industrially. We believe that in facilitating corporate engagement with engineered carbon removal, we can drive the development of a strong, carbon net-negative economy. It’s our aim to galvanise further investment in these technologies. 

Let’s get technical: How does your product work?

Our Puro.earth platform brings together suppliers of carbon net-negative technologies and climate-conscious companies. We have developed our own Puro Standard with which to verify CO2 Removal Certificates (CORCs). Each CORC represents one tonne of CO2 that has been removed from the atmosphere via an engineered method and stored long-term in carbon net-negative processes or products. 

We are particularly proud of our Puro Standard for it is the first to assess carbon credits generated exclusively from such tech-based removal activities. The methodologies of the Puro Standard are science-based and durable, meaning that companies can depend on them for precise emission compensation. To maintain independence, the Puro Standard is managed by an Advisory Board which oversees any proposed changes to its rules and requirements.

On our platform, buyers can browse the available tech-based carbon removal suppliers and explore purchase options. However, buyers do not purchase CORCs through Puro.earth. Instead they negotiate an agreement directly with an accredited CORC supplier or via our network of carbon marketplaces connected to our registry. CORCs can either be bought as a spot purchase or as an advance market commitment. In the latter, the buyer agrees to purchase CORCs that will be verified in the future. Known as Pre-CORCs, these are certificates that allow companies to pre-pay for validated projections of engineered CO2 removal. Only after such a carbon removal has been independently verified are Pre-CORCs converted into CORCs.

Can you share a story of success?

In the five years since our launch, we have grown to be the world’s leading crediting platform for engineered carbon removal. Now, more than 50 companies have issued CORCs and are selling them directly to corporations or via the carbon marketplaces connected to our registry. 

It is hard to choose just one story of success because throughout 2023 we have formed numerous partnerships and made agreements with other companies in the engineered removals space! In July, we announced our CORCs would be available on Xpansiv’s CBL Spot Exchange platform, while in September  we signed an agreement with the carbon capture company, Climeworks. Moreover, we are working to develop Africa’s first DAC facility with Octavia Carbon and Cella. We consider such collaborations to be essential in the expansion of the tech-based removals market.

And finally, what’s next for Puro.earth? 

There’s so much innovation happening within the climate space that we are constantly impressed with the suggestions we are given the opportunity to assess. Amid so much fast-paced transformation, we expect to jump one order of magnitude in the next 18 months and make a second leap by 2027.

 

Disclaimer: Respira International does not have any undisclosed affiliation with Puro.earth. Read more about Puro.earth here.

Respira founding member of Kita’s Carbon Supplier Pool as market develops

By News

We are pleased to announce that Respira is a founding member of Kita’s Carbon Supplier Pool. Taking a new, innovative approach, the carbon insurance specialist now offers clients of its Carbon Purchase Protection Cover the option to receive claims in carbon credits. We welcome such professionalism in the voluntary carbon market, viewing these developments as clear, positive markers of growth for the industry.

As a Lloyd’s of London coverholder, Kita’s Carbon Purchase Cover insures buyers of forward-purchased carbon credits against under-delivery. Kita’s new approach highlights its commitment to scaling the carbon markets and to supporting client’s high integrity net zero goals. 

Kita will work closely with lead capacity provider, Chaucer, to review and assess claims and offer replacement carbon credit payment. Cash payment for eligible claims will also remain an option. Any replacement carbon credits for eligible claims will be distributed from Kita’s proprietary Carbon Supplier Pool. Respira is proud to join Everland, Pachama and Vertree as the founding members of this pool.

Speaking on the new developments, Kita’s CEO and co-founder, Natalie Dorfman, said:

“Kita’s mission is to drive more financing to scale high-integrity carbon projects, and we believe insurance is a key enabler to do this. We are proud to be leading the field when it comes to paying claims in carbon, and look forward to working with, and expanding, our Carbon Supplier Pool as we move forward.”

Kita shares more in a press release here. Read more about Kita’s products here and more about Respira’s portfolio of carbon credits here.

How can the voluntary carbon market support Indigenous Peoples?

By News

Are you an urban person or a nature person? This binary distinction is one with which we readily self-categorise. While in reality it is unlikely any one of us is entirely one or the other, there is no denying that some of us live more deeply connected to the natural world than others. With each passing generation, globalisation has allowed city-dwellers of the Global North to grow increasingly detached from the land on which we all depend. However, for many of the world’s 476 million Indigenous Peoples, ancestral ties to the natural world remain strong. 

The best custodians of nature

While culturally and geographically disparate, Indigenous Peoples tend to have in common a close connection ‘to the land where they live or from where they have been displaced.’ As much as 22 percent of the earth’s land is traditional Indigenous territory including 11 percent of global forests are legally owned by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. In the Amazon, research shows deforestation rates within securely held Indigenous land is on average 50 percent lower than outside of these territories.

These areas are home to an abundance and a richness of species, making them extremely biodiverse. In fact, 80 percent of the planet’s remaining biodiversity can be found within Indigenous territories – a testament to the holistic, sustainable manner in which Indigenous communities live in tandem with the natural world. Indeed, with generations of knowledge, Indigenous Peoples the world over describe working with the land as opposed to on it. It therefore makes complete sense that those with grounded, intergenerational experience of an area are the best equipped to conserve it. 

A challenging landscape for Indigenous Peoples

While several studies report Indigenous Peoples to be the best custodians of nature, all too often these communities fail to receive the recognition, rights and representation they deserve. 

Lack of representation

Indigenous People continue to be unfairly underrepresented in international decision making. While the UNFCCC tallied more than 49,000 attendees at COP27, only around 250 Indigenous people were able to join the conference in person. The inaccessibility of climate decision making demands that greater effort be made to help Indigenous Peoples and local community members take their seats at the table.

Lack of formal land rights

Nearly one quarter of all land is Indigenous territory. However, a systemic lack of formal land rights threaten the security of many Indigenous Peoples. Without secure land rights, it is far harder for these communities to conserve nature and biodiversity as they have done for generations.

Undelivered pledges

At COP26 in Glasgow, a total of $1.7 billion was pledged to support Indigenous land rights. While this sounds positive, only 7 percent of this sum has so far been delivered. 

Misdirected funding

Supposedly $270 million of funding is allocated to Indigenous-led forest conservation every year. However, only a meagre 17 percent arrives in the hands of a named Indigenous-led organisation. 

The voluntary alternative

Amid such lack of delivery and serious under-representation, the voluntary carbon market can provide an alternative form of funding for Indigenous-led conservation. High quality carbon credits, generated from nature-based projects, can be sold to corporates seeking to voluntarily compensate for their hard-to-abate emissions. The proceeds of these sales must be shared equitably with the Indigenous and local communities working to conserve forests. Not only does this recognise and reward efforts, but can also fund further forest conservation activities.

The projects in our portfolio are high-integrity. We conduct our own due diligence to ensure positive impacts on communities is an integral part of the project design. Once we onboard a project to our portfolio, we use our balance sheet to support project developers through long-term offtake agreements. Consequently, they can concentrate on running their projects rather than fundraising and local people have a reliable and consistent source of revenue.

How does this work in practice?

Two of our flagship portfolio projects are developed by Carbon Tanzania. As a social enterprise, Carbon Tanzania counters the prevalent conservation notion that to protect ecosystems and biodiversity, humans must be excluded from the area. Instead, Carbon Tanzania helps Indigenous and local communities to protect nature and biodiversity under fair, equitable economic conditions.

In Tanzania, the Hadza, Datooga and Masaai people have, for generations, lived with the land. Yet, as more people move to Tanzania and demands on resources increase, many communities are finding their way of life to be threatened. Indeed, the territory of the Hadza, Datooga and Masaai is frequently used by migrant farmers. Informed by entirely different life experiences, new arrivals are likely to farm in a way entirely contradictory to that of the Indigenous communities to whom land belongs. 

In response, Carbon Tanzania recognises that strengthening land rights and resource tenure is vital. Ensuring that the Hadza, Datooga and Masaai retain rights to their ancestral land not only safeguards their way of life, but protects naturally forested areas from destruction. This conservation model provides a powerful template for attributing appropriate value to nature and ensuring those responsible for its stewardship are fairly compensated. 

What guidance is already in place for Indigenous Peoples?

Free, Prior and Informed Consent

UNDRIP’s framework on Free, Prior and Informed Consent should form the foundation of any carbon project working with Indigenous Peoples and members of local communities. Let’s look a little closer at what this means

Free 

Consent for a project’s operations must be offered voluntarily and ‘without coercion, intimidation or manipulation.’ When consent is sought, communities should also not be placed under stressful timelines that could force or rush their processes of decision making. 

Prior

Developers should seek consent prior to it becoming ‘necessary’ for a project’s operations. In the very beginning stages of a project, information should be given to local people and should take into account the time needed to understand and analyse potentially new ideas.

Informed

The project information provided to Indigenous and local people should be clear, accurate and entirely transparent. Moreover, information should not cease if and when consent is given. Instead, information should continue to pass between developers and locals throughout a project’s lifespan.

Consent

Consent should be discussed collectively among the holders of land rights and local stakeholders. Any decision to grant or withhold consent should be informed by a participatory process, not the will of a minority.

Embedding Indigenous Knowledge

In January, a new report from the World Economic Forum outlined ways in which Indigenous knowledge could be better included in carbon projects. It states, “‘Respecting Indigenous peoples’ cultural knowledge, rights and responsibilities will boost the resilience and long-term impact of landscape conservation and restoration projects.”

Before establishing a carbon project, the report recommends developers consider likely power imbalances between themselves and Indigenous Peoples. It also advises developers not to underestimate the challenges of trust building and to acknowledge they may carry a cultural load, informed by generations of potentially inequitable interactions. 

The report also advocates for greater Indigenous involvement and participation in leadership roles. This can include increasing understanding of unmet community needs, presenting a range of project options and, crucially, an equitably sharing project benefits.

Tropical Forest Credit Integrity Guide 

The Tropical Forest Credit Integrity (TFCI) Guide speaks extensively on the role of Indigenous Peoples as custodians of the world’s forests. It sets an expectation that the equitable inclusion of Indigenous Peoples should be considered a ‘hallmark’ of a high quality, forest conservation project. Rather than considering Indigenous communities members as beneficiaries of carbon finance, projects should form equal partnerships with interested local people. The Guide itself had input from Indigenous stakeholders. 

How could carbon projects be improved for Indigenous Peoples?

In Global North carbon market criticism, we have observed that many opponents neglect to seek the perspectives of the Indigenous people and local communities on the frontlines of climate change. Of course, opinions will not be homogenous – some people will always be in favour while others stand firmly against. However, there are many Indigenous Peoples who see great potential in carbon finance to support global conservation efforts.

At the beginning of May, more than forty Indigenous-led groups and organisations published an open letter asking the global finance and climate communities to support forest protection, or REDD+, carbon credits. The letter highlights the ways in which REDD+ can provide financial resources and help to safeguard ancestral lands. At Respira, we stand alongside the Indigenous-led groups and organisations calling for immediate support to ensure continued funding to the Global South via REDD+ carbon credits. 

As global temperatures continue to rise and deforestation continues to hit record highs, we must listen to and champion Indigenous voices. We are calling for Indigenous voices to finally be uplifted in conversations about climate finance and for private capital to be channelled, at scale, to Indigenous-led forest conservation efforts.

ICROA

Why we must invest in soil carbon storage

By News

It may sound far-fetched, but it’s true – the top thirty centimetres of the earth’s soil contains almost twice the volume of carbon as in our atmosphere. But while we increasingly acknowledge the role of the oceans and trees for carbon storage, we often forget the huge potential of the ground beneath our feet. 

To address this lapse of attention and raise awareness of the power of the soil, we will answer the following questions:

  • How does soil carbon storage work?
  • Why do we need healthy soils?
  • What prevents effective soil carbon storage?
  • How can we farm for soil health?
  • How do our flagship portfolio projects work to improve soil health?

How does soil carbon storage work?

The world’s soils are inherently carbon-rich. On a basic level, as plants photosynthesise, they capture carbon which is, as they die and decompose, stored in the soil. However, human activity can also seriously alter the soil’s carbon content. 

On the one hand, we can increase the ability of soils to capture carbon by planting crops. As they grow, these plants capture – or sequester – carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is transported through their intricate root systems and stored below the earth’s surface. But our growing needs for land and food are placing additional, excess pressure upon the earth. As forests are cleared and we turn to increasingly intensive agricultural practices, we prevent the soil from storing carbon at scale. With the climate crisis already at our door, destroying a natural method of carbon capture is extremely serious – we have no time to delay, we must invest to improve the health of the world’s soils. 

Why do we need healthy soils?

Our soils are absolutely foundational to support life on earth. When soils are healthy, they contain the correct mix of nutrients and microbiology to support a region’s native plants. This, in turn, supports an area’s overall biodiversity as mammals, birds and insects can consume the nutrients they need. What’s more, soil can hold more water when it is healthy and uncompacted. This can improve water retention, serving to reduce risks of flooding.

But this is not all; when soil is in a state of good health, it offers extensive benefits for our climate. Globally, our soils could sequester and store carbon at such a scale as to be transformational to climate mitigation efforts.

There is an increasing scientific consensus that farming can play a pivotal role in soil carbon storage. For instance, Jacqueline McGlade – former chief scientist at the UN environment programme – estimates that improving agricultural practices can boost soil carbon storage. The study finds that enhancing the farming techniques on half of the world’s agricultural land so as to store just one percent more carbon, would be enough to create substantial change. 

McGlade is not alone. Another study reports that if soil protection and restoration efforts were improved to the maximum, an additional 5.5 gigatonnes of CO2e could be sequestered and stored every year. However, other sources offer different estimates. Indeed, the NCS World Atlas – a tool developed by Nature4Climate and The Nature Conservancy to convey the potential of natural climate solutions for emissions reductions – considers 1-2 billion tonnes annually to be achievable. Although a smaller volume, the NCS World Atlas estimate is still a material amount – roughly equivalent to the entire annual emissions of Russia in 2020.

What prevents effective soil carbon storage?

The climate crisis poses a serious threat to soils. As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, soils can become dry, dusty and more likely to blow away. Not only does this limit the soil’s ability to capture and store carbon, it also reduces agricultural output. Without moisture, yields are lower, and more irrigation is required to keep farms productive. With the global population already exceeding 8 billion, maintaining (and increasing) the capacity of soil to produce food is critical for future food security.

 With so many mouths to feed, it is understandable that much of the world has turned to intensive agriculture over the past decades. In the agricultural sector, many farmers remain financially (and culturally) tied to nitrogen fertilisers, the extensive application of pesticides and using land, seemingly ceaselessly, for production. But the over-cropping and overgrazing of farmland has caused nutrient depletion and soil degradation. Therefore, in a collective bid to increase agricultural productivity, we have actually further limited our ability to produce food in the long-term. 

On a local scale, effective soil carbon storage can be prevented if farms operate from a place of financial insecurity. Without stable, steady incomes, transitioning to more sustainable agricultural practices can be unfeasible. However, financial incentive mechanisms could help farmers focus upon the health of their soils and shift to a more regenerative way of farming. 

How can we farm for soil health?

Despite the increasing body of scientific evidence on soil carbon storage, strategies to improve soil health are not widely deployed. But, this can be short-sighted; many of the methods used to boost soil carbon storage – such as regenerative agriculture – also improve yields and long-term soil fertility

Regenerative agriculture is a way of farming with nature, leveraging natural processes to safeguard soil health. For example, rather than relying on ploughing to aerate the soil, in regenerative farming, a thriving worm population fulfils this role. Pesticides and nitrogen fertilisers are exchanged for crop rotation, cover crops and the integrated grazing of livestock. This means that the same fields are not used repeatedly for a single species and that additional crops are planted between harvests. Therefore, carbon can be continually drawn from the atmosphere and into the otherwise barren soil and more nitrogen can be ‘fixed’ in the soil. As a result, farmers have less need for synthetic fertilisers. 

But, if faced with financial insecurity, how can farmers implement these changes? Fortunately, we are increasingly equipped with financial incentive mechanisms to offer support. Indeed, carbon finance payments can act as a bridge, helping farmers to incorporate regenerative approaches. Although generating carbon finance from soil organic carbon (SOC) requires accurate measurements, emerging Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) technologies offer great potential. MRV tools can be used for both direct measurement – such as soil sampling – and remote sensing.

Our commitment to soil carbon storage

At Respira, we recognise the power of healthy soil for climate mitigation and have been early supporters of two innovative soil carbon storage projects: one focused on grassland management and the other on regenerative, arable farming.  

First we partnered with the world’s largest soil carbon storage project – Northern Kenya Rangelands – which is restoring two million hectares of community-managed, grassland habitat. It is working to establish rotational grazing plans to limit the impacts of overgrazing, improve soil health and, as a result, sequester more carbon from the atmosphere.

Just last year, we welcomed a second soil carbon storage project to our portfolio. Established in 2020, Blaston Regenerative Farming Project is working to improve soil health across 230 hectares of Leicestershire farmland. Supported by independent agronomists, Indigro Ltd, Blaston Farm uses regenerative agricultural methods such as the direct drilling of arable land, crop rotation, the use of cover crops, and integrated livestock grazing. Not only do these methods enable the soil to store more carbon – but they also boost the farms overall biodiversity, long term productively and ultimately profitability. 

Based on the additional carbon stored in Blaston’s soils, the project generates soil carbon certificates which represent the net amount of carbon sequestered on the farm after deducting all emissions associated with the farm’s activities. The sale of these certificates is now the second largest source of income for Blaston Farm, providing an alternative to EU subsidies in a post-Brexit Britain. In this way, regenerative agriculture is an opportunity to promote environmental and financial sustainability. While producing nutritious food, a farm can take climate action via the direct sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. 

Such projects prove that agriculture can be a solution to – not a driver of – climate change. We remain extremely committed to soil carbon storage and are optimistic of the climate mitigation potential these projects provide. With more soil carbon storage projects in the pipeline, we invite you to watch this space for announcements.