Carbon market will redefine methane emissions in agriculture

A new carbon market has been established in what has been described as a game changer for the world’s agricultural industry.

Athian has announced the establishment of the first-of-its-kind voluntary livestock carbon insetting marketplace, with the first accepted protocol aimed at reducing enteric methane emissions and improving feed utilisation by using feed management products from Elanco Animal Health. The two organisations said the new carbon marketplace creates an opportunity for farmers to monetise their greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Athian is verifying its first farms and creating, certifying and selling carbon credits within the dairy value chain. It will create a number of benefits:

  • Dairy farmers of all sizes now have the opportunity to implement on-farm sustainability interventions, measure the impact and participate in third-party verification for their greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The resulting carbon credits can be offered for sale in Athian’s livestock carbon insetting marketplace.
  • Companies in the dairy value chain (such as consumer-packaged goods companies and food retailers) can then purchase those carbon credits as contributions towards achieving their Scope 3 emissions reduction goals.
  • With the purchase of these credits, economic value is returned to the farmer via the sale while supporting the U.S. dairy industry progress towards their own environmental commitments of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050.
  • Over the long term, this marketplace will expand to other livestock & poultry.

“Athian’s first carbon credits for dairy are an exciting and crucial step as they demonstrate the ability to tangibly quantify and verify greenhouse gas emissions reductions and create monetary value for farmers for their efforts,” said Paul Myer, CEO of Athian. “This marketplace, specifically designed for the animal protein industry, is different than traditional offsetting carbon marketplaces because it keeps the value, economic value as well as positive environmental value, in the animal protein value chain.”

Despite widespread awareness of carbon markets by farmers, only 3% of farmers are participating in these markets today, according to a recent survey cited by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Creating an inset market model that works with recognised supply chain partners makes it easier for farmers to measure and implement rigorous verifications, will help break these barriers to entry and accelerate progress.

“As a co-creator and seed investor in Athian, we’re excited to see the company reach the milestones that will bring new value to farmers and help them advance toward climate-neutral farming,” said Jeff Simmons, president and CEO of Elanco Animal Health. “As a leader in animal health, we’ve focused first on delivering enteric methane reduction solutions to producers. If the entire US dairy industry leveraged this intervention, it would avoid 4.7 million metric tons of CO2e emissions annually from enteric, feed and manure emissions. This is a game changer for value creation throughout the food chain, and it’s just the start. Environmental sustainability needs to be grounded in farmer profitability.”

Elanco Hs also developed UpLook™, an insights-based engine designed to measure and monitor greenhouse gas emissions. The tool utilizes on-farm data and peer-reviewed science to identify key drivers of an operation’s carbon footprint and track the progress of their sustainability efforts. UpLook connects seamlessly to Athian’s cloud-based verification system to help farmers quantify their reduction efforts and certify carbon credits for sale.

“Food companies and retailers have made public commitments to collectively reduce more than 100 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Elanco said in a statement. “Despite the progress in corporate target-setting, the reduction of Scope 3 emissions, which typically come from the production of raw materials like milk, has been a significant challenge.

“The creation of Athian’s insetting livestock carbon credit marketplace provides companies in the animal protein value chain the opportunity to make meaningful progress toward their Scope 3 greenhouse gas reduction goals.”