Attempting to further enmesh Big Ag in the climate scam: “You can soon earn credits for reduced fertilizer application if you prove it reduces nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, which are a potent greenhouse gas. That could be a big “if.””
N2O is 310 times more potent in trapping atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide, according to the California nonprofit group Climate Action Reserve (CAR), which released an N-management protocol June 28. “The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from farm-applied nitrogen fertilizers by awarding verifiable credits that can be traded on related exchanges,” CAR said. The concept is similar to cap and trade carbon-trading mechanisms.
“More than two-thirds of all U.S. N2O emissions come from management of agricultural land,” CAR says, citing EPA statistics, “or 3.1% of total U.S. emissions.
“Through more efficient application of N fertilizer under this protocol, farmers can achieve reductions in GHG emissions, generate carbon offsets, earn revenues from the carbon market and provide an important commodity to a growing world population,” CAR says.
Iowa State University Agronomist Michael Castellano adds, “The ag sector accounts for less than 10% of total U.S. GHG emissions. Of the 6.3% of U.S. GHG emissions coming from agriculture, about half are from N2O. U.S. farmers are the most efficient in the world, and that is evidenced by a low contribution towards total U.S. GHG emissions.” His research specializes in N-related sustainability issues.
Since CAR’s new protocol specifically targets the Corn Belt, farmers may find themselves involved in the issue. “For far too long, the role of agriculture in climate change mitigation has been ignored, but appropriate attention to agricultural offsets is building a full head of steam,” says Debbie Reed, president of DRD Associates and executive director at Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.
“The protocol (or guidelines) creates a new, voluntary revenue opportunity from supporting BMPs and wise nutrient management,” says Derik Broekhoff, vice president for policy, CAR, Los Angeles. “It doesn’t create an actual exchange, but a set of rules to quantify GHG reductions and turn those into credits.”
An exchange for trading these N2O credits does not yet exist, but is expected to materialize, he says. The value of the credits will be determined in the marketplace, and proceeds likely shared with aggregators who help farmers with technical support, he says.