Australian Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI)

The Australian Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is part the Australian Government’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. CFI is intended to create opportunities in the land sector – including the agricultural sector: to cut GHG pollution.

Nine methodologies specifically relevant to agriculture have been approved under the CFI by the Australian government:

Beef Cattle Herd Management 
The Determination provides for crediting of emissions reductions from pasture-fed beef cattle. Crediting is based on emissions reductions achieved through efficiency gains, where emissions are reduced while beef production is maintained or increased.

Destruction of Methane Generated from Manure in Piggeries 1.1
The methodology involves the capture of biogas generated by the decomposition of the piggery manure waste in anaerobic lagoons, and the combustion of the methane component of the biogas. The abatement activity includes: covering anaerobic lagoons; installing a gas collection and combustion system (flares or electricity generation system); collecting the biogas; and combusting the methane component of the biogas.

Destruction of Methane Generated from Dairy Manure in Covered Anaerobic Ponds
The methodology involves the capture and combustion of biogas generated by the decomposition of dairy manure in effluent ponds. The methane contained in the biogas is then burnt. The abatement activity includes: covering ponds to prevent the release of biogas (containing methane), collecting the emitted biogas, and combusting the methane component of the biogas to convert it to carbon dioxide and water.

Destruction of Methane Generated from Piggeries using Engineered Biodigestors
The methodology involves the capture and combustion of methane generated by the decomposition of piggery manure by directing the waste stream into an engineered biodigester. The abatement activity includes: installing engineered biodigesters to contain the methane, collecting the emitted gas, and combusting the methane component of the biogas.

Estimating Sequestration of Carbon in Soil Using Default Values 
This Determination sets out the detailed rules for implementing and monitoring offsets projects that sequester carbon in agricultural soils using certain types of management actions on project land and default values of sequestration.

Fertilizer Use Efficiency in Irrigated Cotton 
This method provides for crediting emissions reductions achieved by improving the efficiency of synthetic fertiliser use in irrigated cotton. The method provides proponents with flexibility to select a broad range of management actions that will achieve these emissions reductions. The method requires proponents use the Irrigated Cotton Calculator.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Milking Cows Through Feeding Dietary Additives
The methodology involves the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from milking cows by feeding them a dietary supplement. This reduces methane produced in the cows’ rumen and emissions of nitrous oxide and methane in dung and urine. The Determination can be applied to milking cows in Australian Dairy Feeding Systems 1-3.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Beef Cattle Through Feeding Nitrate Containing Supplements
The methodology determination generates abatement by replacing urea lick blocks with nitrate lick blocks for pasture-fed beef cattle, which has the effect of reducing methane emissions from enteric fermentation.

Sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems
This methodology determination applies to soil carbon sequestration projects in grazing systems and relies upon direct measurement of soil carbon to estimate sequestration. It sets out instructions for undertaking projects and estimating the resulting abatement.

CA GHG Cap-and-Trade Program

The state of California’s GHG Cap-and-Trade Program is a central element of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and covers major sources of GHG emissions in the State such as refineries, power plants, industrial facilities, and transportation fuels. The regulation includes an enforceable GHG cap that will decline over time. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will distribute allowances, which are tradable permits, equal to the emission allowed under the cap.

AB 32 Compliance Offset Program

ARB offset credits are greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions or sequestered carbon that meet regulatory criteria and may be used by an entity to meet up to eight percent of its triennial compliance obligation under the cap-and-trade program. Each ARB offset credit is equal to 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) and can only be quantified using an ARB approved compliance offset protocol. Subarticle 13 of the cap-and-trade regulation details the legal requirements for compliance offset protocols, implementation and verification of offset projects, and issuance of ARB offset credits.  Once an ARB offset credit is issued, it may be used for compliance up to applicable limits with the cap-and-trade program. Only ARB can issue compliance offset credits within the CA cap-and-trade program.

CA ARB Compliance Offset Protocols

To date, ARB has adopted four compliance offset protocols that may be used to generate ARB offset credits, including one agricultural offset protocol for livestock projects.

Capturing and Destroying Methane from Manure Management Systems- Livestock Projects
The Compliance Offset Protocol Livestock Projects provides methods to quantify and report GHG emission reductions associated with the installation of a biogas control system (BCS) for manure management on dairy cattle and swine farms. The protocol focuses on quantifying the change in methane emissions, but also accounts for effects on carbon dioxide emissions. The protocol is based on the Climate Action Reserve’s Livestock Project Protocol Version 2.21 and includes some clarifications and updates from Version 3.0.2. Offset Project Operators or Authorized Project Designees that install manure biogas capture and destruction technologies use the methods contained in this protocol to quantify and report GHGs. The protocol provides eligibility rules, methods to quantify GHG reductions, offset project-monitoring instructions, and procedures for preparing Offset Project Data Reports. Additionally, all offset projects must submit to annual, independent verification by ARB-accredited verification bodies. Requirements for verification bodies to verify Offset Project Data Reports are provided in the Cap and Trade Regulation (Regulation). This protocol is designed to ensure the complete, consistent, transparent, accurate, and conservative quantification of GHG emission reductions associated with a livestock digester project. The protocol is comprised of both quantification methodologies and regulatory program requirements to develop a livestock project and generate ARB or registry offset credits.

Compliance Offset Protocol Rice Cultivation Projects
The Compliance Offset Protocol for Rice Cultivation Projects provides methods for quantifying reductions in methane emissions from flooded rice fields. Methane emissions are a result of anaerobic decomposition caused by the flooding of fields containing organic matter. The organic matter originates from soil amendments, plant residues and root exudates. Methane production is affected by the duration of flooding, the rice variety and the availability of crop residues and organic matter. All reductions must be fully documented, and accurately quantified.

The protocol uses the DeNitrification-DeComposition (DNDC) biogeochemical process model to quantify changes in N2O and CH4 emissions from three eligible practices: 1) replacing wet seeding with dry seeding, 2) early drainage at the end of growing season, and 3) alternate wetting and drying activities. Projects can be implemented in the major rice growing regions in California and the Mid-South (Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) for which the DNDC model has been calibrated with empirical data.

The Offset Project Operator or Authorized Project Designee is required to use this protocol to quantify and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. The protocol provides eligibility rules, methods to quantify GHG emission reductions, offset project monitoring instructions, and procedures for preparing Offset Project Data Reports. All offset projects are required to submit to independent verification by ARB-accredited verification bodies. Regulatory requirements for verification of Offset Project Data reports will be provided in the Cap-and-Trade Regulation.

Additional compliance offset protocols will be considered by ARB as part of future rulemaking activities.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Methodologies

The CDM is a mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol that allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to a meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The mechanism stimulates sustainable development and emission reductions, while giving industrialized countries some flexibility in how they meet their emission reduction limitation targets.

CDM projects are categorized according to a list of sectoral scopes, which is based on the list of sectors and sources contained in Annex A of the Kyoto Protocol. Agricultural Sector Methodologies are designated within the CDM as Sectoral Scope 15. A complete table of sectoral scopes and approved baseline and monitoring methodologies linked with these sectoral scopes can be accessed by clicking here.

One page summaries of each CDM methodology can be found in the CDM Methodology Booklet.

CDM Agricultural (Scope 15) Methodologies

AM0073: GHG Emissions Reductions Through multi-site manure collection and treatment in a central plant – Version 1.0
This methodology applies to project activities where manure is collected by tank trucks, canalized and/or pumped from multiple livestock farms and the collected material is subsequently treated in a single central treatment plant. The existing anaerobic manure treatment systems, in the multiple livestock farms within the project boundary, are replaced by a central treatment plant with one or a combination of more than one animal waste management systems (AWMSs) that result in less GHG emissions. CERs may also be claimed from biogas sourced heat/electricity exportations.

Approved Small-Scale Agricultural Methodologies

AM0073: GHG Emissions Reductions Through multi-site manure collection and treatment in a central plant – Version 1.0
This methodology applies to project activities where manure is collected by tank trucks, canalized and/or pumped from multiple livestock farms and the collected material is subsequently treated in a single central treatment plant. The existing anaerobic manure treatment systems, in the multiple livestock farms within the project boundary, are replaced by a central treatment plant with one or a combination of more than one animal waste management systems (AWMSs) that result in less GHG emissions. CERs may also be claimed from biogas sourced heat/electricity exportations.

AMS-III.A. Offsetting of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers by inoculant application in legumes-grass rotations on acidic soils on existing cropland – Version 2.0

This methodology covers project activities that involve the distribution and application of inoculant on legumes in a legumes-grass rotation cropping on acidic soils on existing cropland. In the absence of the project activity, legumes would have been fertilized with synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Legumes and grass are fertilized with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer in the baseline. Grass is also fertilized with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer in the project situation, however with reduced application rates as compared to the baseline.

AMS-III.AU. Methane emission reduction by adjusted water management practices in rice cultivation – Version 3.0
The methodology comprises technology/measures that result in reduced anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in rice cropping soils and thus reduced generation of methane. Rice farms that change the water regime during the cultivation period from continuously to intermittent flooded conditions and/or a shortened period of flooded conditions are included. Alternate wetting and drying method and aerobic rice cultivation methods are covered (click here for more information). Rice farms that change their rice cultivation practice from transplanted to direct seeded rice are included.

AMS-III.BF. Reduction of N2O emissions from use of Nitrogen Use Efficient (NUE) seeds that require less fertilizer application – Version 1.0

This methodology covers project activities that involve the use of a genetically distinct type of seed for crops that will utilize nitrogen more efficiently. Greenhouse gas avoidance will be determined by accounting for the reduction in the amount of fertilizer used by the crop compared to a baseline seed crop.

AMS-III.BK. Strategic feed supplementation in smallholder dairy sector to increase productivity – Version 1.0

This methodology is applicable to project activities that use strategic supplementation to improve the digestibility of feedstuff fed to large ruminants (i.e. dairy cows and/or buffalo) in the smallholder diary sector, for the purpose of increasing milk productivity and thus reducing methane emissions per unit of milk produced.

AMS.III.D. Methane recovery in animal manure managements systems – Version 18.0
This methodology covers project activities involving the replacement or modification of anaerobic animal manure management systems in livestock farms to achieve methane recovery and destruction by flaring/combustion or gainful use of the recovered methane. It also covers treatment of manure collected from several farms in a centralized plant.

AMS.III.R. Methane recovery in agricultural activities at household/small farm level – Version 3.0
This project category comprises recovery and destruction of methane from manure and wastes from agricultural activities that would be decaying anaerobically emitting methane to the atmosphere in the absence of the project activity. Methane emissions are prevented by: (a) Installing methane recovery and combustion system to an existing source of methane emissions; or (b) Changing the management practice of a biogenic waste or raw material in order to achieve the controlled anaerobic digestion equipped with methane recovery and combustion system. The category is limited to measures at individual households or small farms (e.g. installation of a domestic biogas digester). Methane recovery systems that achieve an annual emission reduction of less than or equal to five tonnes of CO2e per system are included in this category. Systems with annual emission reduction higher than five tonnes of CO2e are eligible under AMS-III.D “Methane recovery in animal manure management systems”.

Approved Consolidated Agricultural Methodologies

ACM0010: Consolidated baseline methodology for GHG emission reductions from manure management systems – Version 7.0.0
This methodology is applicable to manure management on livestock farms where the existing anaerobic manure treatment system, within the project boundary, is replaced by one or a combination of more than one animal waste management systems (AWMSs) that result in less GHG emissions compared to the existing system. The methodology is also applicable to Greenfield facilities.

Alberta, Canada

Climate Change Acts and Regulations

As part of its efforts to address climate change, the Canadian Province of Alberta has introduced legislation to address greenhouse gas emissions in the province: the Climate Change and Emissions Management Act. Alberta has required annual reporting of air emissions since 2003. Facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of GHG a year are required to reduce their emissions intensity by 12 per cent annually. To date, portions of the Act have entered into force. These pertain to the regulations that give authority to Alberta Environment to set targets, enforce mandatory reporting, and emissions intensity reductions.

Specified Gas Emitters Regulation

Alberta’s regulatory system for managing GHG (effective July 1, 2007) enables a compliance-based carbon market to develop in this province by establishing market demand through regulated emission reduction targets for large emitters; and enabling market supply through allowing emission offsets as a compliance option for regulated emitters. Regulated firms can buy verified emission reductions and/or removals of greenhouse gases (i.e. offsets) from voluntary actions arising from unregulated activities (i.e. offset projects in Alberta).

Offsets are one of the mechanisms regulated entities may use to meet compliance under the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation. Offset projects must be Alberta-based and meet a number of criteria in order to be submitted for use under the regulation. An offset must originate from a beyond business as usual action (approved project-type) in a non-regulated sector or operation.

Additional criteria include:

  • Have a government approved quantification protocol for project-type;
  • Result from actions taken on or after January 1, 2002;
  • Occur on or after January 1, 2002;
  • Be real, demonstrable, quantifiable, and verifiable using replicable means;
  • Result from actions not otherwise required by law and be beyond business as usual and sector common practices;
  • Have clearly established ownership;
  • Be counted once for compliance purposes;
  • Be registered on the registry;
  • Be verified by a qualified third party; and,
  • Have occurred in Alberta.

Approved Quantification Protocols for Agriculture Sector

Anaerobic Decomposition of Agricultural Materials – Version 1.0
The opportunity for generating carbon offsets with this protocol arises primarily from the indirect reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from displacing fossil fuel based electricity, thermal energy or natural gas in gas transmission systems with the biogas from the anaerobic digestion of materials (primarily agricultural materials such as manure, silage, dead animal stocks, etc). There is a small opportunity to generate direct offsets from direct combustion or diversion of waste from landfills, if the full flexibility of the protocol is employed.

Conservation Cropping – Version 1.0
This protocol specifically quantifies GHG emissions reductions from the following three activities: new carbon stored annually in agricultural soil; lower nitrous oxide emissions from soils under no till management; and associated emission reductions from reduced fossil fuel use from fewer passes per farm field.

Emissions Reductions from Dairy Cattle – Version 1.0
This protocol is intended to quantify emissions and emission reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) for dairy farms in Canada. The main sources of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms include CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation and manure, N2O emissions from manure, and CO2 and N2O emissions from feed production. Although the type of greenhouse gas emissions reduced under this protocol will be dependent on the specific project(s) undertaken, the majority of projects will result in emission reductions of CO2, CH4, and N2O.

Nitrous Oxide Emissions Reductions in Agriculture – Version 2.0
The scope of this protocol is limited to on-farm reductions of emissions from nitrogen sources and fuel use associated with the management of fertilizer, manure and crop residues for each annual or perennial crop type grown. Lands grazed by animals are excluded from this protocol as are GHG reductions associated with carbon sequestration in the soil and the off-site emission reductions affected by the manufacture and distribution of nitrogen fertilizers1. The exclusion of off-site reductions of fertilizer manufacturing increases conservativeness in emission reduction calculations and limits the scope of quantification to those sources, sinks and/or reservoirs for which data are readily available.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fed Cattle – Version 3.0
This protocol for reducing the number of days on feed for beef cattle addresses both digestion and manure storage and handling emission sources for livestock GHG emissions. It allows users to quantify GHG reductions using scientifically valid equations and emission factors resulting from a reduction in the number of days required to complete the finishing stage of beef cattle in a feedlot resulting in a decrease in both enteric and manure emissions.

Reduced Age at Harvest of Beef Cattle – Version 2.0
This protocol quantifies decreases in GHG emissions associated with the raising of beef cattle by reducing the number of days required to get a feeder calf from birth to harvest. This applies to youthful cattle, or those cattle under 24 months of age, which includes calf-fed or yearling-fed heifers, steers or bulls. In this context, feeder cattle that spend less time in backgrounding lots, on pasture, and in the feedlot result in decreased GHG emissions from the following areas:
Enteric Fermentation: less methane is produced from the cattle as a result of fewer days to market and fewer days on lower quality diets;
Manure Production: less manure is produced, stored and handled as a result of fewer days to market and fewer days on lower quality diets.

Selection for Low Residual Feed Intake Markers in Beef Cattle – Version 1.0
Agricultural activities, including the production of livestock, result in GHG emissions to the atmosphere. Beef cattle, in particular, release methane (CH4) as a result of the digestion of feed materials in the rumen. These emissions are called enteric fermentation emissions. Selective breeding of cattle using a genetic marker for low residual feed intake (RFI) can result in cattle that are more efficient in their feed utilization compared to other cattle. This increased efficiency of feed utilization results in reduced enteric fermentation emissions being released by the cattle compared to other cattle.

Manure storage and handling within beef cattle operations can also be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, namely methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20) emissions. Increased feed utilization efficiency of these RFI cattle reduces the amount of manure excreted, which further reduces the GHG emissions associated with cattle operations.

China’s Regional Trading Programs

In an effort to address its growing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Chinese government outlined multiple GHG related targets and policies that need to be achieved between 2011-2015 in its 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) adopted in March 2011. One of the goals in the plan is to gradually establish a country-wide carbon trading market. While a national trading system is expected to be outlined in the 13th FYP, in the interim 5 cities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Shenzhen) and 2 provinces (Hubei and Guangdong) are piloting their own emissions trading systems based on locally established reduction targets in an effort to help China meet its national carbon intensity goal of a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020.

Given the different economic structures that exist in the cities and provinces participating in the pilots, each system has its own unique requirements for participation in the programs. The major differences can be found in the compliance thresholds and use of offsets. For example, compliance requirements are as low as 5,000 MTCO2 in Shenzhen and as high as 60,000 MT of coal consumption in Hubei.  Similarly, the use of offsets to meet a company’s obligation also range from allowing offsets to be used to meet only 5% of the total reductions in Shanghai to using offsets to meet more than 15% of obligations in Hubei.

Offsets used to meet obligations in all pilot trading programs must use methodologies approved by The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and be classified as Chinese Certified Emission Reduction (CCER) credits. As of February 2014, NDRC had approved 177 methodologies with 173 coming directly from CDM.