July 2023 ESMC Newsletter
ED Update – Expanding ESMRC’s Research Program
Commensurate with the growth in demand for ecosystem services market programs and opportunities for agriculture to voluntarily get paid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental footprints, ESMC/ESMRC continues to grow our program and services. ESMC’s Eco-Harvest Market program and the scope 3 impact units we generate allow companies in the food, fiber, and beverage space to make verified claims of annual reductions in their scope 3 supply chain environmental footprint. These claims help to meet goals and commitments through programs such as the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).
ESMC developed our market program and ensured market readiness of our systems, protocol, and projects via Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC), our innovation and research program. ESMRC’s science base ensures our program and scope 3 outcomes are scientifically credible. I’ve recently discussed the importance of models and data for transparency and credibility in this space and today highlight the key role that research plays in increasing the scientific rigor of market programs and ESMC’s Eco-Harvest program in particular.
ESMRC is a forum for member and stakeholder collaboration to conduct the research, development, demonstration, and deployment needed to achieve expansion and scale of program operations. We also work to move the entire scope 3 supply chain accounting and reporting space forward, working with Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP) and SBTI to show the realities and expertise of how biological agro-ecosystems work on the ground. ESMRC’s sectoral- and value chain-wide collaboration represents over 6 years of collective member and funder co-investments and expertise contributing to the creation, growth, and 2022 launch of our market program, Eco-Harvest.
ESMRC’s robust program of research and testing has refined our protocols and programming and continues to expand our market coverage to include GHG reductions, soil carbon removals, water quality and water quantity improvements, and the piloting of biodiversity outcomes to meet corporate scope 3 commitments and annual accounting and reporting requirements.
Our current 3-year plan is expanding Eco-Harvest program regions, crop production systems, and biodiversity offerings; and we are adding livestock systems to our program. None of this would be possible without research to ensure that this expansion is science-based and standards-based.
To increase our expansion, we are pleased to announce we have added three PhD scientists to our research team at ESMRC. We also launched four new Technical Working Groups (TWGs) with our members to focus on refining and expanding Eco-Harvest program offerings.
The ESMRC TWGs include:
- Water Asset Quantification, Accounting, and Reporting (which include water quality and water quantity)
- Soil Carbon Quantification, Accounting, and Reporting
- Livestock Grazing Land Systems Accounting and Reporting
- Biodiversity Metrics, Accounting and Reporting
The focus of TWGs 1 and 2 is to refine and improve existing programs offered by Eco-Harvest, while TWGs 3 and 4 will support program expansion into new programs via pilots which help ensure market readiness for these programs. Each ESMRC TWG is composed of skilled and motivated problem solvers from ESMC/ESMRC, our members, and independent scientists with relevant expertise.
Our ESMRC research team is advancing the breadth, scale, and capabilities of our innovative Scope 3 market program to ensure that it not only incentivizes producers to adopt regenerative agriculture but meets the needs of our member organizations to reduce their supply chain footprints.
We regularly publish new ESMRC reports on our website and will share some additional program funding news in the coming weeks.
ESMC Staffing Updates: Welcome Will Lytle
As we continue to grow the ESMRC program, our team continues to grow as well! We are so pleased to announce that Will Lytle has joined ESMC/ESMRC as the Research Director.
Will Lytle is privileged to represent ESMC/ESMRC as the Research Director. He believes in ambitious climate action and is passionate about delivering scientifically rigorous solutions on carbon, water, and biodiversity with stakeholders from cradle to fate. Will helps lead ESMRC’s Technical Working Groups, deploys strategic research efforts, and collaborates with leading edge public/private partners on insetting.
Will’s background is intentionally cultivated to understand complex problems from a variety of perspectives including agriculture, finance, policy, built infrastructure, media, ecology, sociology, politics, and strategic planning, which enable him to manage critical program development. Will has focused his efforts on building capacities in communities with state, local, and tribal partners for the actualization of scientific, equitable, and just governance of shared resources. Will has a B.S. in Wildlife, an M.S. in Forestry, and a PhD in Environmental and Energy Policy from Michigan Tech.
To further bolster our team, we are seeking a Policy and Engagement Manager. This is an excellent opportunity to join a dynamic and growing program and team. Read more and apply.
Look for ESMC At…..
Global Environmental Markets and Finance Summit (GEMFS)
July 19 – 21, Denver, CO
GEMFS is the first and only global hybrid event that makes the intersect across carbon, water and biodiversity and the voluntary, regulatory, and resiliency/program-driven approaches across industry sectors. Designed to rotate around the world on an annual basis offering applied and emerging solutions, GEMFS is for those involved in designing and implementing solutions and policies with accountable, transparent, and measurable environmental outcomes – offering impactful dialogue, networking and insight into successful models and challenges, advances in technology, emerging trends in policy and practice, and funding opportunities. ESMC’s Debbie Reed will be speaking on the Connecting Environmental Markets panel. Learn more about GEMFS.
Soil and Water Conservation Society 2023 Annual Conference
August 6 – 9, Des Moines, IA
The annual conference will assemble a diverse, multigenerational conservation community of researchers, practitioners, industry leaders, farmers, and students from around the world in Des Moines, Iowa, where the Soil and Water Conservation Society was founded 78 years ago and is still headquartered today. The agenda will feature the latest ideas, technologies, and practices, and foster a dialogue around their adoption. ESMC is hosting a symposium entitled: Opportunities for Climate-Smart Agriculture to Produce Scope 3 Impact Units with Jack Jeworski (Chief Product and Business Officer), Jake Deutmeyer (Senior Project Manager) and Ashley Hammac (Soil Scientist) presenting. Read more and register.
Oct. 24 – 26, San Jose, CA
VERGE23 is the leading climate tech event accelerating solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time. It is the center of gravity for the climate community — leaders from business, government, solution providers and startups — working together to address the climate crisis across the six key programs that comprise the event: Buildings, Carbon, Energy, Food, Startups and Transport. ESMC is proud to be a Community Partner of this event; as part of this partnership, registrants can use the code V23ESMC for 10% off All-Access Pass registration. Additionally, Jack Jeworski, ESMC’s Chief Product and Business Officer will attend. Learn more about the event and register.
Transform Food USA 2023: Accelerating Innovation and Collaboration for a Sustainable and Resilient Food
November 2 – 3, Minneapolis, MN
Reuters Events announces the launch of Transform Food 2023, a premier event dedicated to accelerating innovation and collaboration within the global food and agriculture industry. The event will take place on November 2-3 at the prestigious Marquette Hotel Minneapolis and will challenge 120 of the world’s most influential food decision makers to tackle the structural barriers impeding transformation at scale and unlock a viable roadmap to a net positive food future for all. ESMC’s Debbie Reed is a speaker and ESMC is a Strategic Partner at this event. Learn more and register.
ESMC Member and Funder News
Nestlé U.S. Advances Regenerative Agriculture Practices in Its Digiorno Wheat Supply Chain
Nestlé (July 13)
Nestlé U.S. announced recently that it is investing to help bring regenerative agriculture practices to wheat farms within its DiGiorno pizza brand supply chain. The company is helping wheat farmers employ regenerative agriculture practices in their fields through a combination of financial support and technical resources and assistance. These practices include planting cover crops, eliminating or reducing tillage, and reducing the use of pesticides, which can help improve soil health and soil fertility, protect water resources, and enhance biodiversity. Nestlé is an ESMC Founding Circle member. Read the full article.
Agriculture Dept. to Invest $300 Million to Measure Greenhouse Emissions
New York Times (July 12)
On July 12, the USDA announced that it would establish a monitoring and data collection network to measure greenhouse gas emissions and determine how much carbon can be captured using certain farming practices. The network, using $300 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, will help quantify the outcomes of so-called climate-smart or regenerative agricultural practices, a cornerstone of the department’s approach to addressing a warming planet. The research and data that is collected will also be crucial to measuring progress on President Biden’s goal of halving greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade. The USDA is an ESMC funder. Read the full article.
Nestlé to Walk Away from ‘Carbon Neutral’ Claims
Just Food (June 28)
The world’s largest food maker, and ESMC Founding Circle member, says it will stop using carbon offsets and withdraw its pledges to make certain brands ‘carbon neutral’. “We are moving away from investing in carbon offsets for our brands to invest in programs and practices that help reduce GHG emissions in our own supply-chain and operations, where it makes the most difference to reach our net zero ambition,” a Nestlé spokesperson said. “Our net zero roadmap does not rely on offsets. We focus on GHG emissions reductions and removals within our value chain to reach our net zero ambition.” Read the full article.
Other News of Note
Farm Fields Don’t Just Feed Us. They Store Carbon. But a Big Question Is How Much
AP News (July 16)
When Al Schafbuch cut back on plowing his Iowa fields decades ago and later began growing cover crops, he was out to save money on fertilizer and reduce erosion. He got those benefits and saw his soil change for the better, too: dark, chunky, richly organic matter that he said feels like “chocolate cake.” There’s one more big payoff that benefits everyone: tilling the soil less, and growing more cover crops, can help farmers store more planet-warming carbon in fields. Read the full article.
U.S. Carbon Emissions Fall for First Time in Biden Era
Climate Wire (July 7)
Global carbon dioxide emissions were roughly flat through the first five months of the year, with rising greenhouse gas production from China and India offsetting deep declines in emissions from the United States and Europe. The findings from Carbon Monitor, an academic emissions tracker, are consistent with experts’ view that the world is entering a period of plateauing emissions. They think a rise in clean energy generation will be offset by growth in total global energy demand. Read the full article.
Top Corn Producing State to See Future Drop in Yield, Cover Crop Efficiency: Study
Phys.Org (July 6)
Winter cover crops could cut nitrogen pollution in Illinois’ agricultural drainage water up to 30%, according to recent research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. But how will future climate change affect nitrogen loss, and will cover crops still be up to the job? A new study in Journal of Environmental Management investigating near- and far-term climate change in Illinois suggests cover crops will still be beneficial, but not to the same degree. The report also forecasts corn and soybean yield across the state, finding corn will suffer much more than soybean, especially in southern regions. Read the full article.
FTC Urged to Tackle Rampant Greenwashing; Set Criteria for ‘Carbon Neutral,’ ‘Net Zero’ Claims
AFN (July 5)
There is no legal definition of ‘carbon neutral,’ and while the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Green Guides offer some guidance on carbon offsets, they do not specifically define the terms ‘carbon neutral,’ ‘carbon negative,’ ‘climate-positive,’ or ‘net zero.’ The Guides, which are not legally binding, are nevertheless frequently cited in ‘greenwashing’ lawsuits, while some states have adopted them into state law, creating a confusing environment for manufacturers that operate in multiple states. Read the full article.
Conservation Economics & Finance Resource Hub
Soil Health Nexus (July 2023)
The Soil Health Nexus recently released a collection of case studies, reports, and other research-based materials that have examined the profitability of conservation practices on farms within the North Central Region of the United States. Access the resource.