True Carbon Neutrality Will Surpass Greenwashing

Greenwashing, also called "green sheen", is a form of advertising or marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization's products, actions, and policies are environmentally friendly. Companies that intentionally take up greenwashing communication strategies often do so in order to distance themselves from the environmental lapses of themselves or their suppliers. But greenwashing alone is not enough, claims need to be backed by data.

As we enter 2023 the landscape is rapidly changing, and consumers are speaking with their dollars. Several recent studies in Canada and the United States have shown that a company’s climate action activities and ESG claims will influence consumers to change who they buy from. These companies need to have data to back up their claims, in the event of legal challenges to the claims by activists.

Biomass is the new oil, isn't it?

For a company to be Carbon Neutral, it must first reduce carbon (CO2) emissions as much as possible before then investing in carbon removal methods to balance out the remaining amount of carbon emitted by their operations. 

Corporate neutrality pledges are gaining momentum, but limitations in design and implementation of carbon strategy reduce impact and jeopardize progress. With a comprehensive CO2 neutrality strategy, organizations can take practical steps towards achieving net zero CO2 emissions, and greater environmental responsibility as well as reaping the long-term benefits of CO2 neutrality. There are economic and reputational benefits by implementing a CO2 neutrality program, validated by a neutral third-party.

Key Points to Consider:

•    The importance of CO2 neutrality in addressing climate change 
•    Common challenges faced in the pursuit of neutrality 
•    Economic and reputational benefits of implementing a CO2 neutrality program
•    Including scope three emissions from supply chains in reporting
•    Strategies and technologies for reducing your company's carbon footprint
•    Options for offsetting any remaining emissions

Approximately 7% of Canada’s landmass is suitable for rearing animals and growing crops; a small additional amount can be used for grazing animals without land modification. Major regions of agricultural activity in Canada are in the Prairie provinces, which grow vast acreages of grain and oil seed crops and where the largest numbers of beef cattle are raised for much of their lives on rangelands. Larger farms on drier soils dominate this region.

Farms and ranches have an opportunity to not only sequester carbon but to play a role in the Scope 3 emissions in many agrifood supply chains, which require traceability.

Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly affects in its value chain. Scope 3 emissions include all sources not within an organization's scope 1 and 2 boundary.

Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed by the reporting company. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company's value chain. This is where interoperability of data systems in the supply chain become important to the aggregation, reporting and validation of a company’s claims or ESG report card.

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)

CBAM is a measure aimed at preventing “Carbon leakage” developed in the EU and will initially cover several specific products in some of the most carbon-intensive sectors. There will be a tax on specific products that do not meet the EU guidelines. Some argue that CBAM violates international trade rules, but it also aims to incentivize trading partners to decarbonize through a tariff on carbon intensive products, such as cement, fertilizer, iron and steel, aluminum, electricity, and hydrogen. 

By 2026 plastics and chemicals will be included in CBAM, and by 2030 all sectors covered by the EU Emissions Trading System, which include glass, pulp, paper, cardboard, acids, electricity, heat generation and aviation. The EU ETS is a market-based mechanism, which means that the carbon price is determined by supply and demand of allowances.

How Does this Impact Farmland and Grasslands?

With all this coming in the EU market, we also see the implementation Carbon Markets in North America, carbon credits can be sold from one industry to another. For example, a farming operation that sequester carbon can sell their carbon credits to a large carbon emitter, or in a carbon market.

Carbon sequestration is the way either nature or a manmade process stores carbon dioxide. Grasslands, cropland, wetlands, and forests all sequester carbon. In 2020 carbon credits traded at $10-$30 per metric tonne, 2022 saw them trading at $50 per metric tonne and expectations are it will hit $65 per metric tonne in 2023. Carbon credits are on track to hit $170 per metric tonne by 2030. 

Some estimates suggest that globally grasslands have 15% to 30% of the world’s carbon tied up in their soil. Scientists estimate that between 50 and 200 tonnes of carbon per hectare is stored below ground in Canada's grasslands, with an additional 3 to 12 tonnes of carbon per hectare captured in above-ground plant growth and plant litter. Most of the carbon sequestered is typically contained in the top 15cm of the soil.

Deforestation in the Amazon region of South America has been a major concern for many years, but in North America we have large tracts of native grasslands which are equally important for carbon sequestration and for providing habitat for species at risk. This does not mean that the grasslands should not be grazed!!  Grazing animals encourage biological activity in the soil, provide nutrients to the soil, and graze the older grasses encouraging new green growth which sequester more carbon.

Our grasslands are amazing in that they provide homes for many different species, sequester carbon and provide food for grazing animals which in turn feed humans a very high-quality protein.