What you need to know:
- And the demand for those carbon credits comes from corporate entities especially in the developed world who are emitting volumes of carbon, but would like to compensate for their carbon footprints.
- Carbon is captured from the atmosphere and stored in trees, and can only be released when the trees are burned in form of firewood or charcoal.
More than 4,000 smallholder farmers who practise regenerative agriculture in Embu County have enrolled to a project that will see them start earning annual income just for having particular trees on their farms.
Through an initiative by the Dutch based Rabobank to trade Carbon Removal Units (CRUs) dubbed ‘Agroforestry CRUs for the Organic Restoration of Nature (ACORN)’, 4,096 farmers from the county will soon start earning not less than 20 Euros (Sh3,000) per ton of carbon equivalent (CO2e) stored in trees on their farms when their carbon credits get monetised.
“ACORN will remotely measure the sequestered carbon and sell the CRUs in the voluntary carbon market,” said Patrick Nyaga of Farm Africa, which is implementing the project in collaboration with the county government of Embu.
He pointed out that a farmer with 180 mix of agroforestry trees such as Glericidia, Calliandra, Sesbania, Leucaena, Acacia, fruit and nut trees on one hectare of land will stand a chance to earn at least 120 Euros (Sh18,000) per year per hectare depending on the size and type of the trees on the farm.
In this scheme, farmers will receive up to 80 per cent of the sales of the CRUs where each CRU represents one ton of carbon dioxide that has been removed from the atmosphere and stored into tree biomass. The payment will be partly in cash and partly in-kind (inform of seedlings or beehives).
Recent transactions in the carbon market were between 20 Euros (Sh3,000) to 31 Euros (Sh4,650) per CRU. Based on the prevailing prices, an average farmer in Embu County can sequester between zero and six CRUs per year, which translates to a maximum of Sh27,900, and a minimum or Sh18,000 for the best performing farmers. “However, given the unique circumstances of every farmer and plot of land, no specific numbers can be given at the moment,” said Nyaga.
Carbon markets, according to the United Nations (UN), are trading systems in which carbon credits are sold and bought. A carbon credit is therefore a reduction or removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
However, some African civil society activists have observed that the carbon credits are underpriced and therefore a false solution for African smallholders.
“This is a situation where these smallholders are actually being paid by someone else to carry their responsibility for polluting the environment consequently causing climate change,” said Charles Mwangi, the head of programmes and research at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
However, he noted that the only advantage is that the schemes, which also include the REDD+, are giving the African smallholders an opportunity to sustainably manage the forest ecosystems and biodiversity, but “we cannot afford to do that solely because of carbon credits,” said Mwangi.
The UN reports that the current supply of voluntary carbon credits comes mostly from private entities that develop carbon projects or governments that develop programmes certified by carbon standards that generate emission reductions and/or removals.
And the demand for those carbon credits comes from corporate entities especially in the developed world who are emitting volumes of carbon, but would like to compensate for their carbon footprints. Carbon is captured from the atmosphere and stored in trees, and can only be released when the trees are burned in form of firewood or charcoal.