Carbon Farming

Policy recommendations on how to incentivise carbon farming

24 September 2021 - Published by Paula Nijman
The carbon farming project wrote an extended white paper in which the consortium of Dutch, Norwegian, Belgium, and German partners provide recommendations to policymakers on how to incentivize carbon farming. After three years of intensive working on carbon farming our most important recommendation is to develop a holistic framework in which the different objectives (climate, biodiversity, water) do not conflict with each other at the farm level, but provide a clear and motivating framework, and not make carbon farming compulsory.

Our consortium of Dutch, Flemish, German, and Norwegian partners started four years ago to develop the Carbon Farming project. Farmers have the perfect position to deliver a positive impact on our climate challenges and the climate goals that are formulated to reduce emissions before 2030 and reach climate neutrality in 2050. Through better soil management and carbon farming, farmers can sequester carbon into their soil, caught from atmospheric CO2, in a sustainable form of soil organic matter.

The Interreg North Sea Region Carbon Farming project was set up with the goal to enlarge the awareness of possibilities that carbon farming brings, and to motivate farmers to start with a new kind of soil management, by seeking new business models for carbon farming. New knowledge with regard to carbon sequestration in agricultural soils was gained and shared, business models developed and pilot projects were started involving different stakeholders.

At the start of the project, the consortium already knew that policy would be a very important factor in the potential of carbon farming. The challenges and learnings of three years of intensive working with over 2000 farmers interested in carbon farming in the four countries were gathered in a white paper. All these learnings, solutions and tips can be found in the white paper ‘Incentivising carbon farming; policy recommendations from the Carbon Farming project’.
Last year, the potential of carbon farming was widely spoken of in the media, especially after the announcement of the Carbon Farming Initiative by the EU where policymakers are now working on a proposal on how to incorporate carbon farming in EU policy. In November the consortium will hand over the white paper to Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans in person. Of course, as a partnership, we only welcome all this extra attention for carbon farming.

To conclude, we have three main recommendations: support farmers with knowledge; provide and support financial incentives through policy programs and private markets and our most important and most common recommendation is for policymakers to give farmers the liberty in choosing the most suitable way of applying carbon farming measures. With this, they are motivated to apply measures regarding carbon farming. The obligation of implementation is definitely not the way to motivate farmers, because they themselves fear that this will limit the opportunity to apply a company-specific and suitable form of management. Restrictions will decrease motivation, creativity, and feasibility. Incentives will give them the opportunity to create not only added value for the environment but also for their own business.

Download the Whitepaper here.

See for a summary in Dutch, the output library.