31.51 tonnes sequestered!

31.51 tonnes sequestered!

Denise has spent many, many hours tracking all sorts of metrics involved with running the farm.  These range from how much rubbish we generate (and what type) to how many trees we have (and what type).  A total of a year’s worth of data is then inputted into a very clever online calculator to estimate our impact, in carbon terms.  This is the Farm Carbon Calculator.

The result of our first year of running this is that we sequester a net 31.51 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in a year!

What does this actually mean?

The first thing to say is that this is an estimation. In fact, it is an aggregation of many estimations based on the best data available as to what impact certain actions have, in carbon dioxide equivalent terms.  For example, if we send rubbish to landfill, there is an assumed carbon cost in terms of transport as well as any emissions that come from that landfill and these are a factor of how much rubbish we generate.  Similarly, if we have trees, of a given age and variety, there are metrics for how many tonnes of CO2 they sequester each year.

Therefore, it seems important to acknowledge the nature of any attempt to calculate a single number from a complex system.  Nevertheless, the overall message is clear.  More importantly, we now have a baseline from which to work.  This year we are looking at ways of reducing our waste, installing more solar, with batteries and of course planting more trees – 4,000 this season and counting!

Will we sell our carbon?

No.  We are not convinced by the various means of transferring responsibility for good practice from one place to another through quantifying that impact.  Carbon offsetting is one example of myriad attempts to quantify and then capitalise on ‘nature based solutions’.  The problem, as we see it, with this approach, is twofold:

Lack of equivalence: if you fly, you emit carbon through the emissions of the jet engines.  If you offset these carbon emissions, it is done by, for example, paying for carbon credits generated by tree planting.  However, the jet engine emissions are 30,000 ft into the atmosphere along a specific route and the trees are all together on the ground.  Aside from carbon, there is little to link these two activities together in terms of their impact on the climate.

Encouraging business as usual: by allowing individuals and businesses to offset their behaviour by buying good behaviour elsewhere, they are allowed to continue with business as usual.  What is really needed is fundamental behaviour change.  Replacing a petrol car with an electric car and keeping behaviour the same means that the attitude towards resource use (which is finite whether we are talking about oil or lithium) remains unchanged.