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Soil carbon protocols

Several emerging standards and markets sell credits for soil carbon sequestration. This interactive table lets you explore protocols, metrics, and our evaluation. Read more about our initial analysis and subsequent additions.

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A comparison of protocols that credit soil carbon
Practices
Rigor
Additionality
Durability
Safeguards
Rating
ACR Compost

ACR Grazing

Alberta Cropping

Australia Estimation

Australia Measurement

BCarbon

CAR Soil

FAO

Gold Standard

Nori

Plan Vivo

Regen Network

Verra Fire + Grazing

Verra Improved Ag

Verra Soil

Verra Sustainable Ag

Verra Sustainable Grassland

ACR Compost
ACR Grazing
Alberta Cropping
Australia Estimation
Australia Measurement
BCarbon
CAR Soil
FAO
Gold Standard
Nori
Plan Vivo
Regen Network
Verra Fire + Grazing
Verra Improved Ag
Verra Soil
Verra Sustainable Ag
Verra Sustainable Grassland

About

Our goal was to identify key issues that prospective buyers and the general public more broadly should be aware of when making decisions about the procurement of soil carbon removal.

We reviewed publicly available protocols that are applied to projects to generate credits from activities that affect soil organic carbon (SOC). Our review included all the accessory documentation associated with each protocol. Protocols included in our analysis apply to a range of geographies and land management practices, including cropping, tillage, grazing, managing agricultural inputs, and other agricultural practices that affect SOC stocks. The majority of protocols address both carbon removal and emission reductions and assess changes in SOC stocks while some also track CO₂, CH₄, and N₂O emissions, and a few include other ecological and community co-benefits.

We received funding from Microsoft to perform this review. Microsoft did not exercise any control over this work. CarbonPlan is solely responsible for the content of this review, which does not represent the views of Microsoft or any other other organizations.

Read our article for more details.

Methods

We focused our evaluation on four key metrics that together speak to the robustness of each protocol and help determine whether their credits reflect quantifiable carbon removal that would otherwise not occur. Our key metrics are: the rigor of protocol calculations, the durability of carbon storage claims, the presence of environmental and social safeguards, and the additionality of projects’ climate claims. We also noted the agricultural practices credited by each protocol and constructed the overall timeline of activities considered.

For each of the four key metrics, we assigned a qualitative score (from 1 to 3) as indicated by filled-in squares. Based on these component scores, we determined an aggregate rating for each protocol (from 1 to 5) as indicated by check marks.

In the table above, you can click to expand several elements to see more detailed information. By clicking the plus sign next to each protocol name, you can see basic information about the protocol and its activity timeline. By clicking the plus on a column name, you can read more about each metric and how we analyzed it. Finally, by clicking on each entry within the table, you can read more about each specific metric for each protocol.

You can download all of our analysis results in CSV or JSON format. These files include all the same data as rendered on this website, alongside additional comments and references for each individual field.

If you identify an issue with our analysis, please send us an email. We are committed to updating and improving our methods over time, and will gladly consider suggestions or engage with potential collaborators.

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