Compensating for our emissions: Agroecological carbon as a voluntary offset method
Kamp, D.S. van de
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This master thesis examines the interconnection between the concepts of agroecological carbon farming and the voluntary carbon offset market. It is aimed at answering the question to what extend agroecological carbon farming is suitable to be adopted as a voluntary offset method. The research is characterized by a case study on the Dutch VCM and an extensive literature study on agroecological carbon farming. Voluntary offsetting is increasing in popularity and numbers and the projects take place in the Global South. Especially offset methods that use storytelling to point out positive side-effects next to the sequestration. Popular methods used for offsetting are REDD+ and the distribution of cleaner cooking stoves. These project categories are failing in delivering credible, permanent and additional offsets and do not positively affect the carbon cycle. Moreover, the Dutch voluntary offset market in its current fails for the greater part to deliver reliable offsetting due to inconsistent carbon calculators, inconsistent pricing and failing projects and methodologies. This research examined an alternative method that is not yet used as a voluntary offset method. The results showed that agroecological carbon farming is a promising offset method in the sense that it has many positive ecological and socio-economic side-effects. The set of agricultural practices is aimed at enhancing the quality of the soil which makes it a high-potential sequestration strategy. Ecosystem services can be derived from agroecological carbon farms and farmers can be rewarded for their sequestration work. To become a certified method, there is a need for standardized monitoring tools for agricultural practices. Measuring and monitoring carbon as well as the long implementation time for perennial cropping systems remain major obstacles for agroecological carbon farming to become successfully implemented as an offset method. Nonetheless, the research shows that sequestration does not only have to come from forestry, instead sustainable ecological agricultural practices also have a high sequestration potential while contributing to biodiversity and local farmers in the global south.