March 2023 ESMC Newsletter
The Value of Market Mechanisms to Reduce GHGs in Agriculture
Earlier this month, ESMC provided comments and responses to the “Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP) Survey on Need and Scope for Updates or Additional Guidance – Market-based Accounting Approaches Survey”. We recommended that the GHGP utilize market-based accounting approaches for Scope 3 to incentivize collaboration, collective action, and shared investments. The intent of the GHGP survey was to collect stakeholder input to understand the need, scope, and potential approaches to inform updates or additional guidance related to GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard, Scope 2 Guidance, Scope 3 Standard, and supporting documents.
Prevalent throughout ESMC’s survey responses is how we are using market-based accounting approaches for Scope 3 greenhouse gas removals and emission reductions. Our program enables corporations to share investments to collectively achieve their carbon and GHG targets in a rigorous yet scalable and cost-effective manner. We note also that Scope 3 GHG reporting can greatly benefit from well-designed market-based approaches that provide incentives to accelerate decarbonization. Market-based mechanisms that drive primary data collection where available and possible will improve the accuracy of Scope 3 accounting and reporting outcomes by showing actual emissions factors that are linked to commodities and supply sheds. We also indicated in our response that our approach does not fit neatly in the proposed methods framed by GHGP in the survey, and we hope that future guidance recognizes the realities of how agricultural systems operate, and the complexities to be accommodated in any accounting and reporting approach.
Updates on Scope 3 Guidance from the Value Change Initiative’s Food and Agriculture Working Group
The latest technical extension from the Value Change Initiative’s Food & Agriculture working group is out – and it helps pave the way for meaningful Scope 3 action. ESMC contributed through this co-creation process between 31 organizations (many of whom are ESMC members) to finding sector solutions to achieve Net Zero through value chain mitigation interventions. This technical extension provides food and agricultural companies with operational, sector-specific solutions to account for an Intervention, report impact up and down their value chains, and show progress towards their climate commitments or science-based targets. Read more and download the documentation.
Highlighting Opportunities to Increase Water Quality and Improve Water Use in ESMC’s Eco-Harvest
Last week, the United Nations held the UN 2023 Water Conference, the first UN water conference in a generation, to take action and bring successful solutions to a global scale. As noted at the conference, “water is a dealmaker for the Sustainable Development Goals, and for the health and prosperity of people and planet. But our progress on water related goals and targets remains alarmingly off track, jeopardizing the entire sustainable development agenda.”
The conference highlighted that populations are growing, agriculture and industry are getting more water-intensive, and climate change is worsening. It also highlighted that water does not only present these challenges, it provides opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and increased prosperity.
Through our Eco-Harvest program, we work with producers, members, and corporate buyers to create opportunities for increased water quality and improved water quantity (water use conservation). In addition to ESMC’s work on soil carbon removals and reductions, we also generate water quality and water quantity credits through our projects for corporations’ Scope 3 supply chain accounting and reporting. Our water quality and water quantity credits can be stacked with carbon credits to bring additional value to producers and enable corporations to meet their annual goals and reporting needs. Some projects, like the Eco-Harvest pilot project with almond growers in California are focusing on water use efficiency, while others like the Eco-Harvest pilot project with dairy and beef farmers in the Chesapeake region are implementing practices to improve water quality. We’ll be reporting more water outcomes from Eco-Harvest projects – both in water quality and water use conservation – over the next year as we compile results from our projects.
ESMC/ESMRC is Hiring – Join Us!
ESMC/ESMRC is hiring for four positions – a Chief Scientist, a Research Program Project Manager, a Project Manager and a Policy and Engagement Manager. Read more on the positions and apply. All positions are excellent opportunities to join our dynamic and growing team.
The Chief Scientist will lead the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) Research and Development (R&D) department. ESMRC is ESMC’s innovation program that serves to improve and expand our market program operations. The Chief Scientist guides the strategic development and growth of ESMRC’s science, innovation and R&D programs, project and partnerships to support scaled beneficial outcomes from agricultural operations, including improved ecosystems service outcomes for corporate scope 3 claims that are quantified and verified.
The Research Program Project Manager will assist ESMRC’s Chief Scientist in planning and execution of RDD&D projects that meet ESMRC goals and objectives as established by grant awards, ESMC market development priorities, and technical working group input and guidance. The position will draft ESMRC Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Statements of Work (SOW) for RDD&D projects, coordinate solicitation of responses, and lead review of submitted proposals. They will also facilitate and lead ESMRC technical Working Group activities.
The Project Manager will join our team in a virtual office environment and will serve on a team of Project Managers to plan, coordinate, implement and lead pilot projects and market projects. The Project Managers will work collaboratively as part of the larger ESMC/ESMRC team and with ESMC/ESMRC members and stakeholders. This is an ideal position for candidates experienced in working with producers to implement regenerative agricultural practice changes and who are interested in joining a quickly growing and innovative organization. This is a remote position.
The ESMC/ESMRC Policy and Member Engagement Manager will serve as ESMC/ESMRC’s lead on public policy issues that are relevant to ESMC/ESMRC’s mission and vision and the success of our agricultural ecosystem services market program. The Policy and Member Engagement Manager will identify public policy opportunities, obstacles, and barriers to a fully optimized ecosystem services market program and work to engage our members and stakeholders to achieve beneficial outcomes. The position is a contract position based in Washington DC.
Look for ESMC At…
S&P Commodity Insights Agriculture Policy Roundtable Seminar
March 29; Washington DC; hosted by the American Farm Bureau Federation
On March 29, ESMC’s Debbie Reed spoke at the Policy Roundtable on: “Eco-Harvest: A Scope 3 Reporting Program for Agricultural Supply Chain Buyers and Sellers.”
Member and Funder News
PepsiCo Announces $216 Million Investment in Long-term Partnerships with Three Major Farmer-facing Organizations to Support Regenerative Agriculture Transformation on More than Three Million Acres of U.S. Farmland
PR Newswire (March 21)
PepsiCo (an ESMC Legacy Partner member) announced a $216 million multi-year investment in long-term, strategic partnership agreements with three farmer-facing organizations to drive adoption of regenerative agriculture practices across the United States. The combined impact of these three strategic partnerships is expected to support the accelerated uptake of regenerative practices on more than three million acres and deliver approximately three million metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals by 2030. Read the full announcement.
Targeting Transparency: ADM Exec Talks Planet Conscious, Plant-Based Line Via Regenerative Agriculture
Food Ingredients First (March 20)
ADM (an ESMC Founding Circle member) has launched Knwble Grwn, a brand designed to provide consumers with sustainably-sourced, plant-based ingredients leveraging operations from small or underrepresented farmers producing crops via regenerative agriculture practices. The launch is a direct-to-consumer, food ingredient line derived from sustainably sourced crops, including applications of flaxseed, hemp seed, flax oil, hemp oil and quinoa. Read the full article.
Other News of Note
Perennial Rice: Plant Once, Harvest Again and Again
NPR (March 27)
Rice is arguably the world’s most important staple crop. About half of the global population depends on it for sustenance. But, like other staples such as wheat and corn, rice is cultivated annually. That means replanting the fields year after year, at huge cost to both the farmers and the land. For years, scientists have been tinkering with rice strains to create a perennial variety – one that would regrow after harvest without the need to be resewn. For what may be the first time in about ten thousand years of human rice cultivation, the new strains stay productive harvest after harvest. Read the full article.
Should Regenerative Agriculture Follow Organic’s Path?
GreenBiz (March 23)
The organic movement forged a path for a federally recognized standard for food. Should regenerative follow its course? Read the full article.
Bezos Gives $19M for Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tracking
Devex (March 21)
The Bezos Earth Fund is donating more than $19 million to help revamp two of the best-known international organizations behind corporate greenhouse gas emissions tracking and public disclosures. The fund, a philanthropic organization established in 2020 by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is splitting its commitment between the two groups. More than $9 million in grant funding will go to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to help “update and clarify existing standards” and to develop new guidance, among other things; an additional $9.9 million in funding is being directed to CDP, a nonprofit organization that operates a global system where investors, companies, cities, states, and regions can publicly disclose the environmental impacts of their activities. Read the full article.
The IPCC’s Latest Climate Report Is a Final Alarm for Food Systems, Too
Civil Eats (March 20)
The world’s top climate scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not pulling any punches in their latest assessment: The climate crisis is already affecting the world’s food supply and exacerbating hunger—and those impacts are going to get worse. The panel confirmed what many have been saying and experiencing: Climate change is making it harder for farmers to produce food, and those challenges will likely get worse due to declining crop and fishery productivity and losses from events like droughts and flooding. They emphasized that adaptation within the food system is possible only if it happens extremely quickly and that the most effective solutions identified would work with natural processes to also preserve biodiversity and resilient ecosystems. Read the full article.
World Is on Brink of Catastrophic Warming, U.N. Climate Change Report Says
Washington Post (March 20)
A dangerous climate threshold is near, but ‘it does not mean we are doomed’ if swift action is taken, scientists say. Read the full article.
This Farm Bill Really Matters. We Explain Why.
Civil Eats (March 20)
As communities struggle with food insecurity and farmers face a range of climate-fueled disasters, lawmakers have a chance to build a farm bill that tackles both in 2023. Will they? Read the full article.
Carbon Markets, Contracts: Proceed with Caution
Farm Progress (March 17)
Economist says carbon sequestration in the Southwest, compared to other regions, is minimal and encourages producers, before selling their carbon credits, to consider if they’ll need them for themselves in the future. Read the full article.
The Hottest Climate Job You’ve Never Heard Of
Fast Company (March 15)
Technical service providers play a critical role in helping farmers transition to more sustainable practices. Filling these roles is only going to get more important. Read the full article.
How Can We Measure Droughts and Deluges? Weigh the Planet.
New York Times (March 14)
Scientists have long cautioned that warming temperatures would lead to wetter and drier global extremes — increasingly severe rainfall, more intense droughts. A new study shows where that may already be happening. Read the full article.
NASA Engages U.S. Farmers: Bringing Satellite Data Down to Earth
NASA (March 8)
Since the launch of the first Landsat satellite in 1972, NASA and its partners have mapped agriculture worldwide and provided key input into global supply outlooks that bolster the economy and food security. Now NASA is increasing its decades-long investment in U.S. agriculture through the launch of NASA Acres, a new consortium that will unite physical, social, and economic scientists with leaders in agriculture from public and private sectors. They will have the shared mission of bringing NASA data, science, and tools down-to-Earth for the benefit of the many people working to feed the nation. Read the full article.
Diversify Income Opportunities with Multispecies Grazing
Morning Ag Clips (March 7)
Grazing sheep, goats or cattle together can open up new market opportunities and help improve pasture stewardship. Read the full article.
Policies to Reduce GHG Emissions Should Look to Agricultural Carbon Markets
Pro Market (March 6)
As governments and companies look for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural sequestration offers one promising method to combat climate change. However, for an agricultural carbon market to thrive, it must overcome several obstacles, including transparency, measurement, and standardization. The recently signed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 is a promising place to start. Read the full article.
Agricultural Banks Expect Climate Change to Pose Financial Risks. Here Are Five Strategies to Help Them Adapt.
EDF (March 2023)
Climate change is projected to impact agricultural production worldwide, and 87% of agricultural finance institutions in a recent survey expect it to present risks to their business. Meanwhile, only 24% significantly factor climate change into their decision-making processes. A new guide from EDF and Deloitte offers five strategies for agricultural finance institutions to manage climate risks and act on climate opportunities. These five strategies integrate climate into agricultural finance institutions’ existing risk frameworks and take a proactive approach to help farmers and ranchers adapt to climate change. Read the full article.