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Low carbon label method for the field crop sector is approved

30 Aug 2021

By its decision of August 23, 2021 (published in the​​​​​​​ Official Bulletin of August 26), the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity has approved the "low-carbon label method for field crops". It allows local agricultural projects that reduce greenhouse gases through changes in the field crop production to obtain additional funding by selling "carbon credits". As a member of the drafting committee for this method, Terres Inovia is now ready to support local projects that wish to promote their virtuous efforts to mitigate climate change.

What is the low-carbon label?

This innovative methodological framework is designed to encourage the emergence of local actions that favor climate change mitigation. It is the first carbon certification framework adopted by France to reward actors who act for the climate and who develop projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon, and who want to certify these reductions in order to value them economically.

It is also intended for all those - local authorities, companies or citizens - who want to support innovative projects for the climate and wish to have the quality of these projects certified.  Indeed, local authorities, companies and even citizens are ready to pay for actions that are beneficial to the climate. The low-carbon label allows them to direct funding towards projects that are virtuous for the climate and the environment.

Terres Inovia, contributor of this new method

Terres Inovia is convinced of the need to act to mitigate climate change and of the existing room for maneuver in the field crop sector. The agricultural sector has a responsibility: in France, it represented 68% of methane (CH4) emissions and 88.6% of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions (CITEPA's Secten 2020 report) in 2018. In field crops, nitrogen fertilizers represent a major source of direct and indirect N2O emissions.

This is why Terres Inovia participated in the "Club Climat Agriculture" led by I4CE (Institute for Climate Economics) where the context and content of this methodological framework were discussed. Then, for more than a year, with the other technical institutes (Arvalis, ITB, ARTB) and Agrosolutions, the institute participated in the drafting of the sectoral method for field crops for the low-carbon label.
Now that the method has been approved, Terres Inovia will work with local partners to implement the most relevant levers to provide both a benefit to society and an added value to the farmer, especially since the project also provides other co-benefits such as increased biodiversity.

Thus, the institute continues its work on the management of systems with seed legumes that allow a certain and significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as other ecosystem services. With "Cap Protéines", the Institute is working to boost the area of seed legumes as part of the national strategy on plant proteins. This is indeed an opportunity to combine climate issues and food sovereignty.

Calculations at the scale of the cropping system

The method that has just been approved applies to agricultural projects in mainland France that aim to mitigate climate change through changes in practices, or even systems, on their field crop farms.
Its scope is that of the farm and aims to calculate the carbon footprint of the production systems that are used there (through the identification and analysis of the different cropping systems that make them up).

The upstream part of the farm is taken into account via the effect of changes in practices on the purchase of fertilizers and fossil fuels. Later versions of the method will aim to include the downstream by accounting for the production of biomass dedicated to the substitution of high carbon footprint products.
On a voluntary basis, either individually or collectively, the project participants will identify and implement a series of levers over 5 years to allow for an additional reduction of GHG emissions and/or maintenance of storage and/or additional storage of carbon in soils at the farm level (grouped under the term Emission Reductions, in tons of CO2 equivalent per ha: CO2e).

Nitrogen management and the return of biomass to the soil are the two major categories of levers in field crops. And if the project brings other benefits, notably in favor of biodiversity, then the price of the project could be negotiated upwards in the private contract set up with the buyer.
The project could be financed by private or public actors (local authorities) involved in voluntary approaches that could have different objectives: contribution to the collective effort to achieve carbon neutrality, reduction of emissions throughout the value chain, or carbon offsetting approaches.

Read more :​​​​​​​  Terres Inovia's work on the low-carbon label and climate

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