Understanding a business’s carbon footprint is likely to become increasingly important with climate change policies being introduced.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result in climate change include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) – of which agriculture produces 10% of the UK’s total GHG emissions. UK farms can reduce their emissions but also capture CO2 from the atmosphere. To measure this in a farming business and benchmark against others, a carbon audit is the place to start.
Carbon Audits allow a business to understand their energy use and costs, thereby identify ways to use resources more efficiently as well as understanding their carbon footprint. It identifies key areas to focus on carbon emission reductions and opportunities to sequestrate carbon.
- Benchmarking tool
- Devise an action plan with management techniques to reduce carbon emissions
- Excess carbon can be used as an offset and provide additional income
- We anticipate carbon emissions and sequestration will be part of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) which may offer possible financial incentives for reducing carbon footprint
- The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) is an up-and-running accredited scheme to enable trading of carbon units captured within woodlands
Elements of a carbon audit:
- Data is compiled for a variety of parameters and then used to generate a figure for GHG emissions either emitted or sequestered
- The figures are given a ‘carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a single measurement that includes CO2, CH4 and N20
- Certain parameters measured contribute considerably more to emissions and sequestration (inorganic fertilisers, soil carbon)
The carbon audit will generate a graph that indicates a net figure of carbon
The Woodland Carbon Code is the standard for woodland creation projects in the UK, which generate verifiable Woodland Carbon Units (WCU). Unlike most woodland grants, the Woodland Carbon Code is not a grant or fund for woodland establishment, but a method of underpinning the value of carbon captured by woodland.
There are two stages to the Woodland Carbon Code
Stage 1 - Validation: the initial evaluation of a project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code
- Projects can be validated by either Organic Farmers and Growers or Soil Association, validation costs between £750-£1,150 and will take 4-6 months
- Once a conditional offer of a contract has been given, planting work and validation can commence. When the woodland is validated, the Forestry Commission will issue the carbon payment scheme contract (eg Woodland Carbon Guarantee)
Stage 2 - Verification: the ongoing evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code
- Verification will assess the carbon sequestration that has actually occurred as well as continuing management to the UK Forestry Standard
- Verification takes place either five years from the project start date or five years from the date of validation depending upon initial project start date and will occur every 5-10 years. Cost will be higher than validation and will take 6-9 months following the verification
The value of the carbon credits is decided through an online reverse auction, taking place every six months. Applicants should calculate the value they require to make their project financially viable and worthwhile. If successful, the government will purchase credits at the price set following the auction for the duration of the contract (30-35years).
To apply for the scheme, the project must be registered with the Woodland Carbon Code, to both validate and verify individual woodland to assess the volume of carbon sequestered.