New carbon trading scheme opens up opportunity for farm sector
Kerala, which aspires to rely fully on renewable energy sources by 2040 and to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2050, stands to reap big benefits from the opening up of the carbon market in the country with the Carbon Credit Trading Scheme 2023.
The scheme kicks in with an amendment to the Energy Conservation Act, 2001, paving the way for setting up carbon trading companies, which will identify a company or project that generates credits, register the project, get it audited by third party auditors, and find buyers.
Around 5.5 lakh hectares is under natural rubber cultivation in the State and the thrust on electric vehicles, solar and hydro-electric energy apart, the agriculture sector, which does not garner much enthusiasm in the State, can support carbon farming in a big way.
The new carbon trading regime looks to have inspired efforts from government-owned agricultural farms in the State. The government seed farm at Aluva, near the Periyar, has been declared 170-tonne carbon negative after an audit by Kerala Agricultural University’s College of Climate Change and Environmental Science. The Aluva farm is the first such facility in the country and has prompted the Department of Agriculture to get 13 more farms, one in each of the districts, audited for carbon emission and achieve carbon neutrality.
Vice-president of the Thodupuzha Farmers’ Club Sony George says the farmers’ group has made an attempt to tap into the carbon credit market by getting in touch with the authorities concerned. He says rubber cultivation is substantial in the State and farmers should be able to benefit from the new market development.
Kadambot Siddique, Hackett Professor of Agriculture Chair and Director at the University of Western Australia Institute of Agriculture, says carbon trading will be a way to reward the farmers. He says Kerala has great scope considering that about 30% of its land is covered by forests. There are also fruit trees with long life that cover the landscape.
P.O. Nameer, Dean, KAU’s College of Climate Change and Environmental Science, Vellanikkara, says the centre has developed a standardised protocol for the Aluva farm. The KAU centre uses primary data to work out carbon emission and sequestration and has also developed a mobile application to capture the data, reducing the chances of error while collation of the data.
Dr. Nameer says data collection for carbon assessment is a cumbersome process otherwise. He says introduction of a national regime for carbon credit trading will make it easier for Indian farmers because getting certified by international agencies, as is the practice now, is an expensive affair.