Carbon Farming

Carbon Farming Consortium hands over white paper to Frans Timmermans

01 December 2021 - Published by Paula Nijman
Call from consortium: Give farmers the opportunity to make a significant contribution to tackling the climate crisis On Tuesday 30 November, an international consortium presented their white paper to Frans Timmermans. Timmermans is Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for implementing the Green Deal. With the policy recommendations in the white paper, we ask him: to design his forthcoming policy in such a way that it motivates as many farmers as possible to get started with carbon farming, by focusing on stimulating regulations and fair remuneration. Mr. Timmermans received the white paper enthusiastically and indicated that it was pleased with our input on how carbon farming can be made attractive for farmers.

Seven organizations are collaborating internationally to turn carbon farming, as a new way of farming, into a revenue model. Farmers can provide society with a unique service because they can remove CO2 from the atmosphere through an adapted agricultural practice and store it as carbon in the soil for a long time, in order to slow down global warming.

The benefits of carbon farming

Carbon farming serves several purposes: in addition to removing CO2 from the air by fixing it in the soil, it also improves soil fertility, biodiversity, water conservation, resilience to climate extremes, and thus more sustainable food production. This requires extra efforts on the part of the farmer, which is why a fair reward may be paid in return.
ZLTO - Carbon Farming

Our advice to the EU Carbon Farming Initiative

The European Union is important for future carbon farmers. The EU has an ambitious climate agenda that was recently put on the table by EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans during the COP26, the international climate conference in Glasgow. By 2030, the EU wants to have reduced 55% of its greenhouse gas emissions and by 2050 the EU must be climate neutral. Timmermans sees an important role for agriculture in this because agriculture is one of the few sectors (along with forestry) that can naturally remove CO2 from the air and store it for a long time. In our Carbon Farming project over the past four years, a number of pilots have been started in which companies reward farmers for carbon sequestration.

The experiences from these pilots are handed over in the form of a white paper to Mr. Timmermans. The recommendations in this white paper form the basis for the 'EU Carbon Farming Initiative' published at the end of this year. In short, the advice is: to ensure that as many farmers as possible want to get started with carbon farming, three things are needed: (1) provide stimulating regulations, (2) a fair remuneration, and (3) encourage private market by developing reliable assurance according to internationally applicable standards. A stimulating European policy with a good earning model for farmers makes it attractive for farmers to get started with carbon farming.

Carbon farming in a week

The white paper is over thirty pages with many recommendations. We have mentioned the three most important ones above. These are part of an integrated set that we have translated into a concrete policy agenda with seven recommendations, one for each day of the week, to emphasize the need to get started quickly.

• On Monday we will start with an integrated policy framework in which the various policy goals for agriculture (climate, soil, biodiversity, water, sustainable food supply) will strengthen instead of counteracting each other. It is essential that the farmer is given room to flexibly interpret this policy, in line with his own business situation.
• The implementation will follow on Tuesday, with immediate attention to knowledge, because a lot still needs to be learned in the field of carbon farming.
• On Wednesdays, restrictive regulations must be removed;
• On Thursday and Friday, work will be done on the earnings model, via hybrid forms of remuneration (based on effort and based on results) and by stacking public and private rewards
• So that farmers can enjoy a real income for carbon farming on Saturdays. And simple administration and a secure data system should ensure that
• the farmer still has time left for other matters on Sunday.

Carbon farming conference

On 8 and 9 December, we will therefore discuss the revenue model and policy recommendations during the online conference 'Incentivising carbon farming', together with farmers, policymakers, knowledge institutes, and other stakeholders. This conference is digitally accessible to everyone free of charge. December 8 is dominated by a plenary program and on December 9 interesting workshops will take place throughout the day. For example, local carbon platforms, promising carbon techniques, and several pilot projects are discussed in which the revenue models have been applied. The entire program and free tickets can be found here.

International Carbon Farming consortium

Carbon farming is an Interreg North Sea Region Project and was implemented with seven partners from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Norway: ZLTO, Thünen Institute, Bionext, Innovatie Steunpunt, Inagro, 3N Kompetenzzentrum and Norks Landbruksradgiving. Various farmers are participating in pilot projects in which revenue models are tested and the prospect of a follow-up is promising.