Climate Action Planning

The Role of Agriculture in Climate Action Planning

An analysis conducted by CCI in 2019 estimating carbon sequestration opportunities on California’s farms and ranches suggests that the agricultural sector has the potential to reach and exceed carbon neutrality over the next two decades, if deployment of agricultural carbon sequestration practices are initiated at scale in the near term.

 An increase in the mass of SOC in the plow layer alone of one acre of ground is roughly 4.6 metric tons of carbon.  Across 20 million acres this is 341 million metric tons of CO2e.

Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector in 2019. EPA 2019.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) has suggested 5% soil organic matter (SOM) as an indicator of a “healthy soil.” Across the state’s roughly 20 million arable acres, elevating SOM from its current average of an estimated 2% to the recommended 5% would represent over 1.3 billion metric tons of CO2e transferred from the atmosphere to the soil organic carbon pool.

Utilizing a Carbon Farming Framework for Climate Action Planning

CCI is currently working with California RCDs and local government in Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma counties to develop methods and protocols for integrating a landscape-scale Carbon Farming framework into existing climate action planning and emergency response efforts.

The COMET-Planner tool and other peer reviewed carbon accounting methods are then used to estimate GHG reduction potential over timescales needed to reach climate action plan targets and GHG reduction goals.

Agricultural Climate Solutions at a County Scale

Our approach to estimating the potential to sequester carbon on agricultural land at a county scale relies heavily on engaging with agricultural producers, RCDs, and others, creating a platform for the agricultural community to take a leadership role in responding to the climate crisis.

In 2020, Marin County updated its Climate Action Plan utilizing a landscape-scale carbon farming framework, working in partnership with CCI and the Marin Carbon Project. In 2021, CCI will be developing a blueprint guidance document and municipal and RCD training curriculum for our landscape-scale carbon farming approach, including methods, landowner outreach, and chapter development for climate action planning in the agricultural sector.