The Carbon Cycle Institute (CCI) works at the intersection of climate science and agriculture. We fill a unique niche among nonprofits by supporting and working with a diverse group of strategic partners, including farmers and ranchers, public agencies, university researchers, and mission- aligned organizations and businesses. We are committed to diversity and equity in our workplace and the communities we serve. Our staff of five provides scientific and technical expertise, planning assistance, training and educational services, policy development, and advocacy work on behalf of our mission and partners.
The Carbon Cycle Institute’s mission is to stop and reverse global climate change by advancing natural, science-verified solutions that reduce atmospheric carbon while promoting environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic sustainability.
Our Working Model
The Carbon Cycle Institute has been developing a model framework for land management that emphasizes the carbon cycle as its organizing principle. Land management within this framework leads to enhanced rates of carbon capture from the atmosphere, increases the provision of important ecosystem services (especially water), and mitigates climate change. The framework relies on sound policies, public-private partnerships, quantification methodologies (COMET-Planner and COMET-Farm), and innovative financing mechanisms that ultimately empower local organizations to efficiently implement on-the-ground time tested, science-verified solutions.
Although US-based, this framework can be adapted throughout the world. In addition to our advancement of effective carbon cycle solutions, CCI works continuously to deliver training and educational programs that foster carbon literacy among farmers and ranchers, technical service providers, conservation agencies and organizations, and policy makers; and proactively supports community and national policies that promote carbon stewardship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is CCI focused on the carbon cycle?
CCI’s mission is to stop and reverse global warming. Increased atmospheric carbon due to human practices is the primary cause of climate change. Stabilizing our global climate will only be possible if we identify and broadly implement practices that reduce the excessive load of carbon dioxide that has accumulated in our atmosphere—while simultaneously reducing new carbon emissions. Doing so requires that we understand and engage with the carbon cycle, a sequence of natural processes through which carbon compounds move from one carbon reservoir, or “sink” (such as the atmosphere), to another (such as forests, soils, and oceans) and back. CCI seeks to identify and disseminate natural and working land “carbon cycle solutions” that offer the greatest potential to tip the carbon balance back in humanity’s favor.
What other types of agricultural lands and carbon farming practices is CCI exploring?
CCI’s work in support of “carbon farming” spans a range of practices, from compost amendment to watershed restoration, improved grazing practices, windbreaks, silvopastoral system development, arable crops, no-till, etc. The GHG reduction potential of most of these practices has been quantified within the COMET tool framework, developed by Colorado State University and NRCS.
What distinguishes CCI from other soil carbon advocates and nonprofits?
CCI is encouraged to see a groundswell of interest in and media coverage of the potential positive role that agriculture and soil carbon management can play in mitigating or reversing climate change. Our focus on agriculture as a climate solution, while not exclusive, is unique, as is our team’s early success in laying the groundwork to scale proven carbon cycle solutions through collaboration with local, state and federal partners and policymakers. CCI is also differentiated by our strong commitment to close collaboration with researchers and extension from some of the country’s best universities to take a rigorous scientific approach to measure changes in soil carbon from practices under investigation.
How do the efforts in CCI's project portfolio interrelate?
CCI and partner projects share a common core objective: to develop pragmatic solutions that address human material needs while delivering significant carbon cycle benefits through sequestered soil carbon and reduced/avoided GHG emissions.
What is the role of CCI in the Marin Carbon Project (MCP)?
MCP was founded in Marin County in 2007. CCI is a member of MCP’s Steering Committee and provides ongoing carbon farm plan design and implementation support on farms and ranches across California, as well as policy and planning engagement at the county and state level.
CCI was seeded in 2007 when the Marin Carbon Project (MCP) set out to explore the potential to increase carbon sequestration in rangeland soils through applied research, demonstration, and implementation. MCP’s scientific investigations, conducted by Dr. Whendee Silver and (then graduate student) Dr. Rebecca Ryals and (then postdoctoral researcher) Dr. Marcia DeLonge, at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, demonstrated the capacity of agricultural ecosystems to sequester measurable amounts of atmospheric carbon in both soils and biomass.
CCI was formally established as a 501(c)3 in 2013 to expand the MCP collaborative partnership as a carbon farming model to increase carbon capture and storage on all California’s ranch and farmland through innovative partnerships, climate and carbon cycle literacy, increased on-farm access to scientific and technical expertise, and appropriate economic incentives, including climate beneficial supply chain creation.