New routes to decarbonise land use
In this report, the UK think tank Green Alliance argues that land-based carbon credits could be incorporated into a ‘Natural Infrastructure Scheme’ (NIS), a scheme previously proposed by the Green Alliance.
Under the proposed mechanism, both the government and private buyers could buy carbon credits from farmers, land managers or land owners in exchange for schemes that reduce carbon emissions or sequester carbon, such as growing legumes in rotation, converting arable land to grassland with no additional livestock, agroforestry, leaving crop residues on the surface, or planting cover crops.
The report argues that selling bundles of ecosystems services together, such as flood prevention, water quality, biodiversity and carbon credits, in order to make more projects financially viable than if they only sold one ecosystem service at a time.
It suggests that buyers for such carbon credits would probably include UK-based aviation and shipping operators, who may wish to improve their reputation by using UK-based carbon credits rather than (potentially cheaper) credits from other countries.
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.