The push to enshrine soil carbon as a climate mitigation strategy exceeded all expectations at the United Nations climate summit in Paris, Courtney White of The Carbon Pilgrim reported on Resilience.org this week.
“Now comes the hard part,” he writes. But for soil carbon, and other aspects of the climate challenge, the Paris summit created a sharp delineation between before and after: “Before Paris meant making our case,” while “after Paris means implementation.”
In the past, “the soil’s potential to sequester large amounts of atmospheric CO2 was largely unknown or under-appreciated. In fact, agriculture, especially meat production, was considered by many climate activists to be a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, not a possible sink—and thus a problem, not a solution,” White writes.
But now, “it’s no longer about making a case for soil carbon—now things need to happen on the ground.” That change opens up an action agenda that includes creating “safe spaces” for farmers and ranchers to change their practices, empowering local communities, linking climate solutions to poverty reduction, supporting greater biodiversity, and redirecting subsidies toward regenerative agriculture.
“There are many low-cost, easy-to-implement solutions that soak up carbon dioxide in soils, reduce energy use, sustainably intensify food production, and increase water quality and quantity plants that we can implement now,” White stresses. “These innovative ideas and methods that put carbon back into the soil have been field-tested and proven to be practical and profitable. They’re mostly low-tech, relying on sunlight, green plants, animals, compost, beavers, creeks, and more, and are up and running around the planet. Scaling them up will be the hard part, but at least we know what works—and that’s a big step!”