Edouard Lanckriet standing at a podium giving his presentation

Edouard Lanckriet detailed what is still missing to build trustworthy carbon farming markets at the first European Carbon Farming Summit

During the first European Carbon Farming Summit held in Valencia, Spain, from March 5 to 7, 2024, Edouard Lanckriet, Head of the Low Carbon Agriculture Division at Agrosolutions, discussed various elements that are needed to develop efficient carbon farming markets and policies. In his keynote speech (recordings can be found here), the expert emphasized that carbon farming is not just about carbon sequestration but also about improving overall soil quality, ecophysiological properties, and biodiversity. However, if we want to channel voluntary carbon market financial flows into the agricultural transition, it is imperative to create a framework that links agriculture to carbon standards.

One of the key points in Lanckriet's presentation was the need for a comprehensive framework that fits with agricultural realities and specificities. This means either to have certification standards that ensure that carbon farming projects reach voluntary carbon market quality criteria of additionality, permanence and absence of double counts, or to create a voluntary carbon market with specific rules for agriculture, if quality criteria are impossible to be demonstrated in agriculture.

Indeed, demonstrating additionality and permanence in agriculture is challenging. The harder we try to demonstrate them with the current rules, the more costs are spent on Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV), leaving less money for implementing practice changes and achieving a climate impact. Moreover, the permanence guaranty or additionality demonstration remain uncertain because additionality in agriculture is always relative and biogenic carbon is never permanent. In addition, existing quality criteria of voluntary carbon finance are not suited to capture all environmental co-benefits generated by a non-permanent carbon removal, which flows from one carbon pool to another and can generate benefits well beyond the farm borders.

As a result, Lanckriet pointed out that, instead of trying to demonstrate compatibility with rules that cannot be applied in agriculture and do not make sense from an environmental, physical and biochemical point of view, we should create a monitoring system fitted to agricultural specificities. Otherwise, the sustainable transition of agriculture risks relying on markets that will not deliver the required finance to farmers.

Another significant aspect highlighted by Lanckriet is the importance of accelerating the development of cheap and robust monitoring and verification systems to ensure the fast advancement of projects with credible and accurate carbon sequestration claims. He underscored the role of technology in this process, such as remote sensing and data analytics, which will need to provide accurate estimates of soil carbon levels and track changes over time for reduced costs and time spent in MRV. These technologies are crucial for establishing scalable, transparent and trustworthy carbon markets, which are essential for incentivizing farmers to adopt carbon farming practices. However, an adjustment to the current carbon prices is needed, and he advocated for having a carbon market dedicated to carbon farming, where carbon credits could be more expensive as compared to the ones produced by other Nature-Based-Solution projects. For example, the average price in the Label Bas Carbone program was 33 €/ton of CO2eq, which is seen both too high by credit buyers and too low by the farmers that produce the credits.

The presentation was part of the broader agenda of the European Carbon Farming Summit, which aimed to foster high-level conversations and collaborations among experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to shape robust carbon farming markets and policies across Europe. The summit served as a platform for knowledge sharing, upscaling solutions, and enabling the multiplication of climate actions throughout the EU. For more detailed information about the summit and to access the presentations, you can visit the official European Carbon Farming Summit website.

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