Following “Code Red for Humanity” from the latest IPCC report, we wanted to share and release our vision of creating systematic change on how our food system works, turning it from a source of global warming to a tool that can reverse it.
Introducing the Bx Carbon Offset Token (COT), which can be defined as a voluntary carbon removal credit. It is clear from IPCC that our planet is started to overheat and our news headlines around the world show our world is on fire. So we must do much more than simply reducing emissions, so at Bx we wanted to ensure we designed a mechanism that removes CO2 in out atmosphere at scale. At Bx, our mission is to put annually 500m/t CO2 (0.5GT) back into the soil, through the food we produce and eat. We believe we can achieve this, by helping global growers transform just 2% of the agriculture land. We as humans are good at eating it seems, so if we can produce food that generates carbon removal credit, then we can start eating our way out of climate change.
Bx COT methodology
This post outlines what a COT is and the process Bx undertakes to issue a COT (Carbon Offset Token).
Bx has two assets in carbon offsetting that need to be understood: Ecosystem Services Improvement Token (ESI)s and Carbon Offset Tokens (COT)s. We will first explain what these two assets are, then assess how Bx carbon offsets address six key offset quality indicators, lastly we will describe the mechanism/process used to issue a COT.
COT (Carbon Offset Token) - Soil Based
Fundamentally, each COT represents 1 Ton of CO2 that can be used for offsetting. Currently Bx COTs are based on carbon capture into agricultural soils via implementing climate smart agricultural practices specifically in perennial horticulture systems. We are exploring ways to issue biomass-based COTs in these systems and other options for nature-based solutions. This document focusses on our methodology for issuing the first Bx off-set token, soil-based COTs.
Bx believes in continuous improvement, as more data and evidence become available, we will adjust our methodology to keep pace with the best information available, while maintaining consistency of our offering to the market.
Bx COTs are determined by measured carbon capture, with emissions associated with creating COTs deducted before they are issued. We apply a time boundary of 1 year to remove some of the variance associated with carbon capture and provide a consistent way of issuing COTs. Bx COTs are spatially bound to the ‘production/growing area’ of an orchard, removing farm buildings, headlands, etc. Bx is focused on improving carbon sequestration by growing a crop and implementing climate smart agricultural practices. We focus on the top 30cm of soil to be in line with IPCC protocols (exceeding standard agricultural soil sampling depth of 7.5–15cm) as we believe this to be the depth to which agricultural practices can realistically have an impact on sequestering carbon in the mid-term. The spatial boundary is defined to a key element in Bx carbon credit issuing — the ESI.
Introducing ESI (Ecosystem Services Improvement) Token
We can not achieve the target of increased carbon sequestration (removal/capture) without improving natural capital or ecosystem services. Purchase of an ESI is an investment into a given Growers’ ability to improve those vital ecosystem services. It acts as an incentive to initiate and reward change for the better. An ESI represents the total value of the defined ecosystem services within a defined spatial boundary. Ecosystem services we currently include are:
· Climate Regulation (Carbon Protection)
· Carbon Sequestration
· Food Production
· Water holding capacity (Flood Protection)
An ESI is issued on blockchain technology and leverages the capability of smart contracts; it is an NFT — Non fungible token.
Rewarding those to go and “do good”
Growers can issue and sell their ESIs at Bx Earth Exchange (www.Bx-Earth.com) to financially support the transition to Climate-Smart Agriculture. Utilising blockchain smart contract technology, supporting funds received from the sale of an ESI are only released to a grower as they achieve the Climate-Smart Charter, which are data verified.
· Promote Biodiversity
· Protect Soil Carbon
· Improve Soil Life
· Produce Carbon Neutral Food
Holders of the ESI, can utilise the data verified improvements that occur on land, to enhance ESG/CSR claims regarding investments into sustainability and promoting progress towards the UN SDGs for example. They have the additional benefit of receiving first refusal (securing supply) to all the COTs generated from that ESI at a 1-year fixed price. An ESI is similar to a licence to access COTs on a preferential basis. We believe that this benefit will increase in importance as we approach 2030, a deadline by which many companies have committed to becoming net-zero. Offsets play a large role in achieving net-zero targets, and BCG research has indicated that there will be a 300M ton shortage of high integrity carbon offsets by 2030. Further sources suggest large price increases in carbon offsets over the coming decades as supply lags behind demand (e.g. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2021/jun/ten-fold-increase-carbon-offset-cost-predicted) , making a verifiable, high-quality supply vital. Decarbonisation should be the first step on any roadmap to net-zero, but for most industries there will be residual emissions that require offsetting or insetting. Individual ESIs are expected to generate between 5–30 COTs annually. Most corporations will hold several ESIs to meet their annual carbon neutrality goals.
As the Grower improves the ecosystem services within an ESI, this will increase the implied price of said ESI. Holders of the ESI are able resell or trade the ESIs with other participants in the Bx Earth Exchange market. Any profit of an ESI will trigger a 50% royalty payment to “Growers Reward Fund”. The fund will pay out annually distributing to all growers on the platform. Growers who have enacted the most climate smart practices, and created the most COTs, will be in line for enhanced pay-outs.
The Bx Earth Exchange provides tools for corporations to report on and manage their ESIs and COTs in a Portfolio. A corporation does not need an ESI to purchase COTs, but ESIs are the only way to reserve future Carbon Offset Tokens before they are created. In addition, an ESI is a way to show real commitment to changing the world for the better as it provides verifiable impact statements that can be used in corporate reporting. In addition, with demand for high quality and integrity credits set to rise (and correspondingly the price is set to rise too) having an ESI provides corporations a way to secure their supply of COTs at a fixed price, future revenue from selling any COTs they purchase but do not use, and equity in the ESI itself as its value increases over time.
What makes a carbon offset high-quality and high-integrity?
While there is currently no globally accepted single definition for what makes a good/high quality carbon credit/offset nearly all approaches that are considered high quality include key requirements that carbon offsets are: real, measurable, additional, permanent, independently verified, and unique. Here is how Bx COTs stack up against each quality requirement:
All emission reductions and removals, and the project activities that generate them, should be provable to have actually taken place
Each and every one of our COTs is Real. It is carbon that has been captured, scientifically measured on the ground by an independent third-party lab, who use industry standard protocols.
Each COT is uniquely identified and tied to an ESI which is spatially tagged, i.e. you can see exactly the area/orchard that a COT was generated in.
All activities that generate the COTs are recorded within LOOOP. LOOOP is Bx’s operational orchard management system that monitors and measures business activities. Thus, real, operational activity is digitally captured real-time, not secondarily input to a system. This serves as a record to prove activities (climate smart agricultural practices and emissions used to create a COT) have actually taken place and are easily auditable.
Carbon reductions and removals should be quantifiable, using valid measurements against a credible baseline.
The soil carbon baselines on Day 1, and changes in carbon on Day 366 and each subsequent year are quantified by on-the-ground measurements conducted by an independent third-party lab. The emissions are quantified within LOOOP with credible conversion factors taken from scientific literature and industry standards. Each measure is interrogatable.
Credits should be additional to what would have occurred if the project/activities had not been carried out.
COTs are additional to 1) the measured, established orchard baseline, 2) a model that estimates a counterfactual scenario of what an orchard would achieve in terms of carbon sequestration. This represents what level of carbon sequestration would have taken place on each orchard in the absence of carbon smart agricultural practices. — based on IPCC models and research. The IPCC is the intergovernmental panel on climate change and the highest authority on climate change globally. The counterfactual carbon amount is not used to generate COTs it is used as a value to subtract from the potential COTs (total sequestration measured on an orchard) to ensure true additionality. This value is currently 0. According to the IPCC “Over time, soil organic C stock reaches a spatially-averaged, stable value specific to the soil, climate, land-use and management practices”. Put simply, if soil, climate, land-use and management practices stay constant, so does soil carbon. If one or more of these factors change, soil carbon will gradually increase or decrease to a new stable value. If growers do not make changes to land-use or management practices (i.e. they continue to use traditional orchard management), soil carbon stocks will remain approximately stable over time and no COTs will be issued. As part of joining Bx Earth Exchange growers are required to make a long-term commitment to adopting a set of climate-positive growing practices. Growers on the Bx platform sign up to a minimum practice charter of practices that will increase carbon sequestration.
The grower charter:
· Promote Biodiversity — Plant cover crops
· Ensure and Protect Soil Carbon— do not disturb the soil/no till
· Improve Soil Life — Increase organic matter.
· Produce Carbon Neutral Food — Reduce emissions and create COTs
On this basis, we attribute any subsequent increase in soil carbon above the level measured when land is first registered on the Bx Earth Exchange as additional sequestration by the grower.
Note, we do not sell current carbon in the soils (Carbon Protection) as an offset, though Climate Regulation (Carbon Protection) is an ecosystem service which has explicit value within the ESI.
Our COTs are issued only after all the carbon emissions that were used to farm the orchards have been removed.
Therefore, Bx COTs are based on true additional Net Carbon.
Carbon credits should represent permanent emission reductions and removals.
It is worth noting that carbon exists in a cycle and there are very few if any ‘permanent’ stores of carbon. For example, reforestation projects store carbon for the lifetime of the trees, but not ‘permanently’/forever. Different approaches to generating carbon offsets will naturally have different permanence lengths. The real aim of projects should be to shift the global balance of carbon from the atmosphere into stores.
COTs have a minimum permanence of 10 years, meaning once the carbon has been captured it will remain locked in the soil for at least 10 years.
Growers are further incentivised to protect carbon for longer than 10years as it is one of the ecosystem services (Climate Regulation) that underpins the price of an ESI. An ESI which has appreciated in value and is resold, results in commission for growers. A falling ESI price (losing carbon), will mean that a grower could see a corporate dispose of their ESI.
Bx also operates a ‘water level’ mechanism on issuing COTs. Meaning that new COTs are only issued above the highest observed carbon level for that ESI. For example, with a starting baseline of 20 tons of carbon in the soil, measures 25 tons the next year, 5 COTs are issued (assuming no emissions to be netted off). The following year the level drops to 20 tons in the soil. The grower would need to increase to 26tons before another COT was issued. Thus, Bx COTs represent permanent emission removals.
To protect customers we operate an internal insurance system to provide adequate safeguards to avoid carbon offset loss or invalidation through carbon leakage.
A third party is verifying the carbon measures.
This means different things under different standards, for some it means that the project will be verified as having taken place by a 3rd part auditor (i.e. someone checks trees were actually planted), the models used to estimate carbon capture that are independently verified, the design of the projects and methodology that is verified, or the data to measure carbon is verified (or a mix of the above). At Bx when we say our COTs are independently and scientifically verified, we don’t mean the methodology/approach is, we mean the actual carbon capture is.
We have an independent lab take representative samples of soils based on industry best practice from each and every one of our ESIs, every year, to show actual increases in carbon that are measured independently.
A ton of carbon that has been captured may not be placed on more than one credit mechanism/scheme so that no more than one carbon credit can be associated with a single emission reduction or removal as 1ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
Each ESI and every COT tied to an ESI is registered to a Blockchain (Algorand) enabled registry, where provenance data and use is stored, this means that COTs/offsets cannot be double counted.
We gain agreements from all growers that supply Bx that they are not engaged in other carbon offset projects and that they will not sell carbon credits to other registries.
Each COT is unique and stored uniquely within the blockchain registry until it is used/retired. This information (who created the COT, who bought/sold it, who used it in an offset) is publicly visible at www.Bx-Earth.com (also on Algorand Explorer) to allow claims made by any parties as pertains to offsets to be checked by anyone.
Bx is providing a simplified approach to carbon credits using digital technology to collect real-time data, with fewer actors in the process and a shorter carbon-to-corporate chain. Bx COTs are data based, with independently verified data and completely transparent, held in a trustworthy, immutable blockchain registry.
Bx carbon credit/COT issuing mechanism
Here we describe a simplified version of the mechanism which is used to create, manage, trade, and provide provenance for Ecosystem Service Tokens, including COTs (Carbon Offset Tokens) on the Bx Earth Exchange. We intend that the risks and rewards for promoting Ecosystem Services are fair to all participants. We have designed our processes to promote this as much as possible.
1. ESP creation
The first step in generating carbon credits (COTs) is to create an ESP (Ecosystem Service Parcel). Land which is being managed to promote Ecosystem Services is represented digitally by an ESP following due diligence. This equates to an orchard in the ‘real-world’. The ESP is the grower’s representation of the orchard, while an ESI is an investment into an ESP and what an investor/buyer of ecosystem services holds.
Bx gathers and verifies information on:
1. Grower identity and proof of rights to manage the land and of land tenure (e.g., a lease or proof of ownership for a minimum of 10 years and length of agreement).
2. Boundary of the land to be included in the ESI in digital format. The boundary is defined as the crop production area only.
3. A baseline assessment of the current carbon present in the soil.
4. A baseline assessment of other ecosystem services.
5. Installing LOOOP (Bx proprietary software) on farm to gather emissions data.
6. Farmers sign up to a minimum charter of practices that will increase carbon sequestration.
The Grower will enter a contract with Bx which includes an undertaking to protect Ecosystem Services whilst they are managing the land. They commit to their land not being registered with any other Voluntary Carbon Offset or Ecosystem Service schemes. Bx will verify that no part of the land area is referenced by any existing ESPs.
Growers agree to enact climate-positive growing practices. Growers on the Bx platform sign up to a minimum practice charter of practices that will increase carbon sequestration.
The grower charter:
· Promote Biodiversity — cover crops
· Soil Carbon Protection — do not disturb the soil/no till
· Promote Soil Life & Activity — increase organic matter
· Produce Carbon Neutral Food — reduce emissions and create COTs
In addition to the financial incentive of a new revenue stream through generating COTs, there are potential ESG claims that the grower can make about how they are growing food in a climate-positive way. Bx has designed the Earth Exchange and COT system to be a positive, rewarding system that incentivises systematic, long term change through leveraging the ESI, water-level mechanism, rolling 10 year permanence, etc. Rather than a consequences-of-non-compliance system. The insurance mechanism built into the system should provide an adequate safeguard against any instances non-compliance.
Growers will have many ESPs, each representing a distinct parcel of land that they manage, this will be held as a Parcel Portfolio. The Parcel Portfolio holds these Parcels and makes it easier for a grower to manage and report on their holdings.
3. Creating Ecosystem Service Investment Tokens (ESIs)
The ESP and the data Bx has collected is placed onto the Earth Exchange blockchain infrastructure to create an ESI (Ecosystem Service Investment token). This token is tradeable and is the asset that an investor into ecosystem services would buy.
An Ecosystem Service Assessment will be performed on an annual basis, including a soil carbon measure and an update for all other ecosystem services that were baselined. This assessment will include a report, measurements, method and source data (such as sample results) and will be securely stored and linked to the ESP/ESI. ESIs are tradeable on the Earth Exchange and are likely to increase in value as increased Ecosystem Services are tied to them and securing supply of carbon (and potential other) offsets becomes more important.
4. Generating Carbon Offset Tokens
It takes 12 months to create a COTs because Bx only issues ex-post carbon credits/offsets. A COT can be used to offset a corporation’s emissions, helping them achieve Net Zero or better. These tokens include detailed provenance data that can be viewed and verified. COTs can be traded on the Exchange. Once used as a Carbon Offset, they cannot be used again or traded.
The current carbon measure, the previous year’s carbon measure, and emissions produced during orchard operations to grow food, are used to assess the quantity of additional carbon which has been sequestered (added/captured) to the soil in the previous 12 months.
Carbon Offset Tokens are issued for the additional quantity with the initial owner being the holder of the ESP (the Grower). Each COT represents 1 ton of carbon additionally sequestered to the soil. The COT has a unique ID and will include a reference to the ESI/ESP it was generated from. COTs are unique and can’t be interchanged with each other, in other words they are ‘non-fungible’.
The Exchange requires that sellers of Carbon Offset Tokens are carbon neutral in producing the COTs. Management of the orchard/farm will produce emissions that will need to be offset before the COTs can be sold by the Grower on the Exchange. Bx LOOOP collects data throughout the year and generates a Carbon Emissions Report. The grower must ‘Extinguish’ enough of the new COTs to offset these emissions before they can trade the remaining COTs.
5. Buying COTs
The owner of the COTs is the Grower (holder of the ESP), if the corresponding ESI has been purchased by someone they have first refusal to buy the COTs from the Grower at an agreed ESI price. This price is negotiated and agreed when the ESI is sold. If they decline to purchase the COTs (or in the event Bx holds the ESI) the COTs can be released to the Earth Exchange open market at the prevailing market rate, which is non-negotiable.
The minimum floor price that a grower wil receive for their COTs is based on the price agreed at the sale of the ESI. If/when COTs are sold on the Exchange secondarily the price is the prevailing Exchange market price.
6. “Extinguishing” (using) COTs
Organisations can use COTs to offset their own emissions. To do this they will “retire” or “extinguish” tokens they own. A used token cannot be traded or reused. As part of the retiring of a token Bx will create a new Carbon Offset Record Token (CORT) representing a used Carbon Offset providing the provenance and transparent historical record of offsets. This may include a copy of a corporations Environment, Social Governance (ESG) report. These CORTs are non-fungible, and it is possible that these tokens may become collectable.
COTs are traded on the Earth Exchange. All transactions must pass through the exchange to maintain transparency and ensure no double counting of offsets. The Exchange is intended to be fully transparent such that any customer, NGO, journalist, member of the public, etc. can check that a company has indeed offset what they have claimed to offset, thus an immutable and complete record of all sales and COT and conversion to CORTs must be maintained, thus transactions off-exchange are not permitted.
Get involved! Make a difference!
Thank you for taking time to read this, at Bx we work on a principle of continous improvement not just in our methodology but as a business, product and to the growers we support with our technology. If you have ideas to improve, support or want to get involved. Please visit www.bx-earth.com and contact us. We are excited to start securing a better world for our children.