Global trade in carbon credits a nice earner?

12 October 2001

Global trade in carbon credits a nice earner?

UK FARMERS could soon profit from a global trade in carbon credits, using min-till cultivation to claim income from some of the worlds biggest corporations.

That was one possibility to emerge from the first World Congress on Conservation Agriculture in Madrid last week.

Carbon sequestration, where arable crops are used to absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, was a key topic at the event, says Keith Norman of farm management company Velcourt.

"There is no doubt that global warming is taking place, and greenhouse gasses such as CO2 are largely responsible. A global trading system, where tonnes of absorbed carbon are bought and sold, will undoubtedly happen in the next few years."

The accounts of some large companies already show how they will balance carbon emissions by purchasing carbon units, he reports.

Velcourt believes one way of exploiting that new market for its clients will be through min-till establishment, which can accumulate 0.3-0.6t/ha of carbon per year, because carbon is retained as organic matter in the soil.

"It looks likely that the reference year will be 1990, so any field that has been minimally tilled instead of ploughed since then could be eligible as a carbon sink," says Mr Norman. "That in itself will have a future value."

While there is a long way to go before such systems become a reality, he believes UK growers are well placed to profit. "Experiences of crop establishment put us in a very good position for some of these future global opportunities." &#42

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