Agricolture and CO2

Europe and Italy in the new Carbon Farming policies

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Carbon is the basic element of life, of our societies and our economies.
However, emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, from industrial processes and from land use changes are stoked in the oceans and are drastically increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. In response to the urgent need for climate action, the European Union has established the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 in all sectors of the economy.

To achieve this ambitious goal, we need to create sustainable and climate-resilient carbon cycles through three main actions:

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Reduce dependence on carbon, moving to a circular economy with the use of renewable energy.

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Recycle the carbon so that it can be used instead of carbon of fossil origin.

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Enhance the carbon offsetting solutions capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the ecosystems in the long-term.

European Green new
deal

EU has issued the European Green Deal which aims to reduce NET emissions by 2030 by 55% compared to the reference figure (1990), and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 (Climate Target Plan).
A brief summary of the units of measurement used to measure pollution and compensation, from UN to EU and Italy.

1. The United Nations has called a Conference of the Parties (COP) of all those participating in the UN Convention on Climate Change, with the aim of offsetting 58 billion tons of CO2.
2. The European Union through the ETS (see below) has set the goal of eliminating 4 billion tons of CO2eq.
3. Italy with voluntary markets aims to eliminate 300 million tons of CO2.

Focusing on industries and business, two other elements must be considered:

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Supply chain. The EU laws quote several times the “supply chain reporting” meaning that large companies will have to include suppliers in their financial statements and this could lead to an indirect obligation to adhere to the Zero Carbon policies, even for those who are not required to do so.

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EU funds. The Legislative Decree of 28 May 2021 on the Italian Government, as many other national laws, is part of the Next Generation EU plan. These laws ask any supplier of the government (or other authorities) to comply to environmental standards.

In addition, big companies must comply other obligations according to the industry and the dimensions:

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Major polluters, emitting more than 25,000 tons of CO2, bound to compensate with the ETS bought each year within an auction organized by the European Union or alternatively in a second auction between companies.

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All companies with at least 500 employees, listed on the stock exchange, which are required to submit the sustainability report.

In addition to this scenario, there is a recent European law of 2021 which has widen the range of companies that must present the sustainability report: not only companies with 500 employees and listed on the stock exchange, but all companies with more than 250 employees.

Who manages ETS
in Italy

ETS = Permits to pollute.

With the Kyoto Protocol, “permits to issue” have become an obligation for BIG POLLUTERS.
The EU Directive states that plants in Europe with high volumes of emissions, over 25,000 tons in a year, cannot operate without an authorization to emit CO2 into the atmosphere.
Each authorized plant must annually monitor its emissions and offset with European emission allowances (European Union Allowances, EUA and European Union Aviation Allowances, EUA A – both equivalent to 1 ton of CO2eq) which can be bought and sold on the European market.
The ETS (Emission Trading Scheme) is a double-auction system that started in 2018-2019. The European Union issues a certain number of EUAs (emission permits or carbon credits), with a first auction some companies grab these EUAs with a second one, companies that are left without can buy those in excess from those who have taken them in the first auction.
The EU-ETS use only credits deriving from plants working on capture, transport, and storage of CO2 (CCS) but has no credits from the forestry sector.
Europe is gradually reducing the supply of these permits every year so that the price ETS increases. Hence, for these companies it becomes less expensive to reduce their carbon footprint than the permit itself.

The important news is that Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the Directorate-General for Climate of the European Commission has expressed a favourable opinion for including forest credits in the future EU-ETS as long as there is a reliable accounting, monitoring and certification system. It means that an important expert has acknowledged forests strategic potential to reach the ambitious emission reduction objectives enshrined in international agreements and EU laws.

What happens in Italy?

In Italy, the ETS system is managed by the GSE, a part of the ETS Committee (National Committee for the management of Directive 2003/87 / EC and for the support in the management of the project activities of the Kyoto Protocol). GSE is an inter-ministerial organization working as national authority to apply the ETS scheme in Italy.

Carbon
Farming

Carbon Farming indicates the technique and process allowing the sequestration of carbon in the biomass as whole (leaves, branches and roots).
This technique is gaining more and more importance among the possible solutions to be adopted to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. Agriculture plays a leading role in this process.
With carbon Farming, “natural pits” are created capable to capture CO2 by exploiting the natural capacity of the soil to store carbon dioxide to make it available to plants and other crops. For this to happen it is necessary to be able to rethink the way agriculture is managed: from a traditional model to a more active one, capable of increasing production with fewer emissions. Only active management of land can guarantee this result.

How to do it?
There are several techniques ranging from the use of soil cover crops for the winter months to techniques allowing the soil to be plowed only on the surface, avoiding the release of CO2 embedded in the soil.
Besides carbon farming, afforestation (the creation of forests from abandoned land) and the management of new and old forests can improve the carbon capturing potential of the soil.
It is also important to precisely calculate the amount of CO2 captured and stored. To do this, the reference is the ISO 14064-2 standard which certifies the validity of the method and the result achieved.
For an additional guarantee, many players at national and European level are recording transactions on Blockchain, aware that it is currently the most transparent, impartial, and unchangeable public register that can be found today.
Companies that invest in this type of project will be able to use these certificates and certifications to distinguish their brand from their competitors’, addressing a Consumer and Business audience that is increasingly attentive to sustainability and carbon neutrality.

Sustainable carbon cycles

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