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Carbon offsets vs. carbon farming

We’ve all heard of carbon trading. Complex international emissions trading schemes – mostly with large companies in mind — have been set up to put a price on CO² pollution. Essentially the idea is that the biggest polluters have to make up for their “sins” by buying carbon credits, which in theory means funding projects such as reforestation in some faraway part of the world. Carbon trade is big business, with a market value (estimated by the World Bank in 2009) of $126 billion.

The whole idea is that if you pay enough, you can pollute more.

Unsurprisingly, then, the carbon market has been ineffective at tackling rising emissions. Yes, we could name problems such as corruption, ineffective monitoring, and negative effects on local communities. But the bigger issue is that the whole system has been designed with corporate interests in mind and has turned pollution into a commodity market. It has proved a major distraction from developing policies that would actually reduce emissions.

Project Grounded joins other organizations in putting forth a different solution. This one involves you, not just big corporations. This one can happen on your local farm or forest, not just in faraway places managed by some large entity. And most importantly, this one is climate mitigation that you can taste and wear.

We’re talking about carbon farming. Growing food and other goods that we enjoy and need — while drawing down carbon from the atmosphere into the soil in the process.

Farming is something we as a species are going to do anyway, to sustain ourselves. Why not do it in a way that restores ecosystems and sequesters carbon? Rather than make emissions mitigation into a separate and costly process that involves paperwork and ultimately allows the biggest polluters to buy their way out of responsibility, why not weave it into the ancient form of land stewardship known as farming?

In the coming months, we will feature in a monthly series of posts such carbon farms, stewarded by ecologically responsible farmers, doing this very work — and showing how it makes economical sense, too.  Climate activism that tastes amazing, too. Stay tuned!

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