`Italian and Croatian Olive Growers Test New Carbon Credit Project - Olive Oil Times

Italian and Croatian Olive Growers Test New Carbon Credit Project

Jun. 15, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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A three-year-long European Union-funded project has shown that olive, fruit and vine grow­ers can effi­ciently con­tribute to devel­op­ing a car­bon credit mar­ket focused on agri­cul­ture, cre­at­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties for farm­ers and pro­duc­ing ben­e­fi­cial effects for the envi­ron­ment.

The exper­i­men­tal mar­ket set up by the Green Economy and CO2 project (GECO2) allowed the agri­cul­tural part­ners to mea­sure their car­bon seques­ter­ing capa­bil­i­ties and sell car­bon credit.

Thanks to GECO2, we have ver­i­fied that par­tic­i­pat­ing Italian and Croatian grow­ers sequester around three tons of car­bon per hectare on aver­age.- Giulia Villani and Antonio Volta, GECO2 coor­di­nat­ing team

On the other side of the spec­trum, GECO2 buy­ers in the food sec­tor were allowed to off­set por­tions of their green­house gas emis­sions by buy­ing those cred­its.

Coordinated by Italian and Croatian offi­cials, hun­dreds of farm­ers and entre­pre­neurs on both banks of the Adriatic Sea par­tic­i­pated in the scheme, which encour­aged the adop­tion of many farm­ing best prac­tices.

See Also:Why the U.S. Lags Behind Other Western Nations on Carbon Tax Issue

Thanks to the best prac­tices in man­ag­ing their ter­ri­tory and the bio­mass, farm­ers who par­tic­i­pated in the project have learned that a vir­tu­ous approach can lead to car­bon cred­its gen­er­a­tion,” Giulia Villani and Antonio Volta, researchers at the Climate Observatory of the Italian Agency for Energy and Environment of Emilia-Romagna and mem­bers of the GECO2 coor­di­nat­ing team, told Olive Oil Times.

Thanks to GECO2, we have ver­i­fied that par­tic­i­pat­ing Italian and Croatian grow­ers sequester around three tons of car­bon per hectare on aver­age,” they added.

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In a note pub­lished by Legacoop, one of the project part­ners, the cooperative’s pres­i­dent, Cristian Maretti, noted how this project high­lights that the cap­ture of car­bon diox­ide is pos­si­ble in agri­cul­ture and gen­er­ates inter­est­ing earn­ings and car­bon cred­its for farm­ers.”

There is inter­est in sup­port­ing more sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural sup­ply chains, and there­fore there is a poten­tial for the vol­un­tary mar­ket to work,” he added.

The car­bon seques­ter­ing capa­bil­i­ties of every involved farmer were input into the GECO2 algo­rithm, which cal­cu­lated how the vol­umes trans­lated into cor­re­spond­ing cred­its.

The first tool that the project designed was the car­bon cal­cu­la­tor needed to pro­duce agri­cul­tural-gen­er­ated car­bon cred­its,” Villani and Volta said.

After that, another cal­cu­la­tor was devel­oped to esti­mate the car­bon emis­sions pro­duced by the GECO2 buy­ers,” they added. In the test project, we have specif­i­cally focused on the emis­sions related to the energy use of the par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies.”

In the third step of the devel­op­ment project, GECO2’s part­ners cre­ated the plat­form where the actual car­bon credit trad­ing occurs.

By answer­ing a ques­tion­naire, par­tic­i­pat­ing farm­ers pro­vide the car­bon cal­cu­la­tor with the rel­e­vant data, such as the slope of the land, soil drainage prop­er­ties and tex­ture and the annual rain­fall.

They also had to list the species and num­ber of per­ma­nent crops and trees grow­ing in their fields, the age of the groves and the height of the trees. Other data requested for the car­bon cal­cu­la­tor included the amount of forestry crops and other veg­e­ta­tion such as shrubs or hedges.

Farmers were also asked to be very spe­cific about the treat­ments used in the field, such as the use of fer­til­iz­ers and other chem­i­cals, how they are used and applied and in what quan­ti­ties they are applied.

They also had to detail the man­age­ment of com­post mate­ri­als describ­ing the ori­gin, type and how they are used. At the same time, the farm­ers were also asked to mea­sure their fuel use and energy con­sump­tion.

One of the lim­its we have met by using the ques­tion­naire is the fact that it might be too detailed, in the sense that it can end up cost­ing farm­ers if it needs to be done for each of their fields,” Villani and Volta said.

See Also:Sustainable Olive Oil Production Helps Mitigate Climate Change

The other limit being that not all farm­ers have all those data, nor did they ever explore spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics of their activ­ity,” they added.

On one side, that means that some pro­duc­ers input esti­mates instead of specifics into the cal­cu­la­tor, dis­tort­ing the real­ity of the amount of car­bon sequestered and cor­re­spond­ing cred­its pro­duced.

However, it also allowed farm­ers to thor­oughly review and under­stand the envi­ron­men­tal impacts of their agri­cul­tural oper­a­tions.

Among the data digested by the algo­rithm, a spe­cific space was given to farm­ing best prac­tices.

These included organic farm man­age­ment, appli­ca­tion of soil con­ser­va­tion tillage, use of cover crops, farm man­age­ment with hedges, rows and for­est patches inte­grated into field crops, reuse of wood residues to improve soil, reduced pes­ti­cide deploy­ment and no bio­mass burn­ing.

The farm­ers were also asked which best prac­tices they intended to adopt to par­tic­i­pate in the project.

Over the three years of the project, which ends on May 31, GECO2 involved around 160 farm­ers cov­er­ing 1,877 hectares and con­tribut­ing to 205 exper­i­men­tal fields.

As a whole and for the pro­jec­t’s dura­tion, the par­tic­i­pat­ing agri­cul­tural activ­i­ties stored more than 6,500 tons of green­house gases.

The train­ing phase also included 42 sem­i­nars aimed at farm­ers, busi­nesses, pub­lic admin­is­tra­tions and cit­i­zens.

GECO2 has seen real trans­ac­tions, which is a rel­e­vant achieve­ment,” Villani and Volta said. Like all E.U‑funded projects, GECO2 is open and acces­si­ble, so the entire mech­a­nism that the project has set up can be stud­ied, widened and applied in other con­texts.”

One of the requests com­ing from the E.U. is the replic­a­bil­ity, which is the pos­si­bil­ity for oth­ers within the European Union to imple­ment the project and expand it,” they added.

The pro­jec­t’s part­ners hope to have GECO2 pave the way to build a com­pre­hen­sive car­bon credit mar­ket based on agri­cul­ture and con­tribute to the devel­op­ment of E.U.-wide projects.

By the end of the year, the European Commission should announce an offi­cial car­bon credit cal­cu­lat­ing method­ol­ogy which mem­ber coun­tries will then be able to adopt,” Villani and Volta con­cluded.



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