By Valerie Volcovici of Thomson Reuters

A World Bank-designed program to cut farming emissions in Africa using carbon markets got final approval under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) on Monday, enabling those projects to start issuing carbon credits.

The pilot project will enable more than 60,000 smallholder farmers to earn internationally-recognized VCS credits by changing their farming practices to improve soil carbon sequestration.

Joëlle Chassard, manager of the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit, said the offset scheme will give farmers, who have been generally left out of the carbon market, the potential to earn money from it.

“Given the limited leverage of carbon finance for the agricultural sector to date, this is an important step in promoting linkages between agricultural productivity, adaptation and climate change mitigation,” Chassard said.

David Antonioli, CEO of the VCS, said the approval of the soil carbon methodology demonstrates the growing improvement of greenhouse gas accounting for land-use activities, which have been left out of the carbon market until the last few years. This may give a boost to proponents of using the carbon market to earn credits from projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+).

“In particular the advance in soil carbon accounting will help bring the agriculture sector into the discussion, and this is critically important for REDD+ because ultimately the success of REDD+ is not just about forests but about broader landscape management,” he said.

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