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Introduction to Ag Carbon Trading. Phil Metzger, RC&D Coordinator USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service Central NY Resource Conservation & Development Project, Inc. CO2 and Global Warming. What is Carbon Trading? .

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introduction to ag carbon trading
Introduction to Ag Carbon Trading

Phil Metzger, RC&D Coordinator

USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service

Central NY Resource Conservation & Development Project, Inc.

what is carbon trading
What is Carbon Trading?

A strategy for mitigating the emission of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) through a “Cap-and-Trade” system

what is cap and trade
What is Cap-and-Trade?

Regulatory programs that cap harmful emissions by limiting them though a permitting system and distributing the emissions permitted to different stakeholders.

These are called allowances, permits or credits

Stakeholders can buy and sell the rights to the permitted emissions or ‘credits’ after their initial distribution.

what is cap and trade5
What is Cap-and-Trade?

Goal of Cap-and-Trade is to prevent further increases in net emissions

cap and trade
  • Example:
    • Cap-and-Trade allows Power Plant A to reduce emissions well below their cap and sell the resulting ‘carbon credits’ to Power Plant B who cannot easily modify their operations to meet the cap limit
    • How does this reduce GHGs?
cap and trade7

Cap-and-Trade is a term that describes a market based system for controlling pollution.

Cap-and-Trade requires a regulatory body to set an emissions cap for the polluting industry as a whole for a set period of time

What would be a non-market based system?

cap and trade8
  • Examples of Cap-and-Trade Programs:
    • Kyoto Protocol is a global Cap-and-Trade program to mitigate the man-made emissions of GHGs.
    • Regional Greehouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state Cap-and-Trade program that will regulate carbon dioxide emissions from only the electric sector beginning in 2009.
cap and trade9

What happens when emissions targets are met?

agricultural offsets
Agricultural Offsets
  • Methane destruction is an example of an offset
  • Offsets can also come from carbon sequestration.
    • For example, if a company plants 100 acres of trees, they can sell offsets equivalent to the quantity of carbon that will be sequestered by growing the trees
agricultural green house gases
Agricultural Green House Gases
  • Carbon trading includes other GHGs that contribute to climate change
  • Other common agricultural GHGs are:
    • Methane (CH4)
    • Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
    • These are much more potent GHGs in that their global warming potential (ability to retain heat) in the atmosphere is much greater.
agricultural green house gases12
Agricultural Green House Gases

Methane (CH4) has a global warming potential of 23 times that of CO2

Nitrous Oxide (N2O) has a global warming potential of 298 times that of CO2

GHGs are multiplied by their conversion factor to obtain CO2 equivalents (CO2e)

This allows GHGs to be traded in CO2 units.

agricultural offsets13
Agricultural Offsets
  • Agriculture offsets can be achieved by three main ways:
    • Carbon Sequestration – storing carbon in forests & soils
    • Fossil Fuel Displacement – alternative energy or energy efficiency
    • GHG Destruction – combusting methane to reduce it’s global warming potential
how do we utilize agricultural offsets
How do we utilize Agricultural Offsets?

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will regulate large electric power plants by “capping” their carbon emissions.

Agricultural Offsets can be purchased by power plants from farms to meet a small fraction of their “cap.”

carbon registries
Carbon Registries

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX)

Environmental Resources Trust (ERT)

CA Climate Action Registry (CCAR)

US EPA Climate Leaders (EPA CL)

carbon registries rggi
Carbon Registries - RGGI

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – cooperative effort by 10 Northeast & Mid-Atlantic States to cap emissions of CO2 from electric power plants and subsequently reduce emissions by 10%.

Participating states:

Connecticut Delaware Maine

New Hampshire New Jersey New York

Vermont Massachusetts Maryland

Rhode Island

carbon registries rggi17
Carbon Registries - RGGI

RGGI program has targeted 2019 to complete the reductions

The focus is on the power plants because, for example, in NY they contributed approximately 25% of all GHG emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2005

carbon registries rggi18
Carbon Registries - RGGI

What will happen after the 2019 cap is achieved?

carbon registries rggi19
Carbon Registries - RGGI
  • Current RGGI regulations include 5 eligible offset project categories:

1. Landfill methane capture & destruction

2. Reduction in emissions of sulfur hexaflouride (SF6)

3. Sequestration of carbon due to afforestation

4. Reduction or avoidance of CO2 emissions from natural gas, oil or propane end-use combustion due to end-use energy efficiency

5. Agricultural manure management methane capture and destruction

selling carbon credits
Selling Carbon Credits
  • Simplified Steps:
    • Apply practice (Tree Planting, Methane Destruction)
    • Outside party verifies the amount of allowable credits
    • Credits are listed on a Registry
    • Credits are purchased off the Registry and retired
agricultural carbon trading
Agricultural Carbon Trading

Go to for more information

presented by
Presented by:

Phil Metzger, RC&D Coordinator


Norwich, NY

607-334-3231 x4

Prepared with information from the website developed and hosted by Central NY RC&D, contributions by Jeni Wightman, Stacie Edick, R. Neil Sampson, John Duxbury, John Marschilok, David Watson & Phil Metzger

cap and trade23

Example (Simplified Illustration ):

1. Before regulation, emissions from this industry equaled 1000 tons per year, 500 tons emitted from each Plant A and Plant B.

2. The regulatory agency sets a Cap of 800 tons for the industry.

3. There are only two parties in this industry (very simple example!).

cap and trade24

4. The regulatory agency assigns each party their Allowances. Plant A and Plant B each receive an Allowance to emit 400 tons

  • (100 tons less than they each currently emit)

5. Plant A cannot reduce its emissions down to its Allowance of 400 tons, it cannot meet its emissions reduction target of 100 tons.

6. Plant B can reduce its emissions down to below its Allowance of 400 tons, exceeding its emissions reduction target of 100 tons by reducing actual emissions by 200 tons.

cap and trade25

7. Plant B can sell 100 tons of its Allowance to other parties in the industry.

8. Plant A can purchase 100 tons of Allowances from Plant B, now it has met its total Allowance of 400 tons, so it is in compliance.

9. 500 tons from Plant A plus 300 tons from Plant B equals 800 tons total for the industry—so total emissions have not exceeded the Cap set by the regulatory agency.

What was the total emissions reduction for the industry?

cap and trade26

10. The regulatory agency now knows that 800 tons is an achievable cap, and then reduces the cap further to 700 tons and the process starts again.

NOTE: IF Plant A could only purchase 70 tons of Allowances from Plant B, then Plant A could also purchase 30 tons of “Offsets” from non-regulated parties who engage in practices which reduce emissions or sequester carbon such as changing to improving energy efficiency or planting grass or trees.