Cashing in on carbon

Developers at Nori are creating software that would simplify the exchange of carbon offsets between farmers and interested buyers

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Better Farming

Governments around the world are creating regulatory programs to oversee the purchase and sale of carbon credits as a strategy to mitigate climate change. However, as officials work through the lengthy process of developing regulatory programs, Nori, a Seattle-based company, is creating an independent and voluntary carbon marketplace to connect farmers who sequester carbon with buyers.

“We’re a two-sided marketplace that connects people who can sell the representation of 1 tonne of CO2 removed from the atmosphere … and buyers who want to pay for that,” Christophe Jospe, the chief development officer at Nori, told Better Farming.

The company recognizes the work that American and Canadian farmers are doing to add carbon to their soil. So, Nori’s program is “geared toward those producers who are planting cover crops, adopting no-till, adding certain soil amendments or additional crop rotations that are known to sequester carbon,” Jospe said. These practices can add more carbon to the soil through the accumulation of organic matter or prevent the loss of soil carbon by keeping mycorrhizal fungal communities intact.

NoriNori’s system uses field-level data to verify a carbon sequestration project. Then, the system uses a model to develop a soil carbon baseline and project additional carbon sequestration with the enactment of new practices.

The system “is practice-based and outcome rewarded,” Jospe explained. “After 10 years there is an audit (with) on-the-ground soil sampling.”

This audit “trues up” the model’s predicted carbon sequestration. Carbon credits are converted into what the company call a Nori Carbon Removal Tonne, which the farmer can then sell.

“There are a number of challenges in carbon markets today where they’ve been inhospitable to farmers to participate on a field-by-field level. So, I think the problem we solve for the farmers enrolling is making it easier to enter field-level data,” Jospe said.

Nori’s service provides “application programming interface, so it’s like a software handshake,” which makes data collection and management easier, Jospe explained.

In “geek speak, (Nori) removes a lot of friction to make that marketplace work,” he added.

The project is still in the pilot stages. Eventually, “we would love to be an accepted mechanism in the compliance markets (but) we’re not there yet. We’re cutting our teeth in the voluntary markets,” Jospe said.

Nori has received feedback from farmers who appreciate the company’s focus on data privacy and the independence of the market.

“Farming moves at the speed of trust,” Jospe said. “Farmers work with you because they like you, they trust you, and you can help them.”

Businesses with their own sustainability mandates may purchase Nori Carbon Removal Tonnes. Nori also provides software connections that make it easier for businesses to connect carbon sequestration directly to the consumer.

For example, a ride-share company might give consumers the option to “carbon-neutralize” their travel.

“If that story were told back to consumers who are conscious in their behaviours,” the consumers can pay more for product. In the process, the transactions benefit the company and farmers get paid for sequestering carbon.

“Everyone wins,” said Jospe. BF

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