A sneak peek into Nori’s first methodology for carbon removal

Last week on the Reversing Climate Change podcast, we talked about Nori’s current progress in developing its first methodology for carbon dioxide removal.

What exactly is a methodology?

At Nori, we actively try to avoid using jargon, to the point where we’ve considered created a “jar-gone” jar (pay a dollar every time you speak jargon). However, while we try to be less confusing than existing markets, Nori’s carbon removal marketplace is complex. Because Nori’s goal is to enable a suite of carbon removal methodologies through agriculture, forestry, direct air capture, etc., it is important to specify what we mean by a “methodology”. A methodology is the method applied to quantify and estimate the amount of carbon dioxide removed. It’s the system that allows people to generate a Carbon Removal Certificate (CRC). It requires three components:

A.) A process to remove carbon dioxide

B.) A method to list a project on the Nori Marketplace

C.) A procedure to verify, maintain, audit, and assign a quality rating to CRC estimates

The following is a high level description of Nori’s first methodology in the framework of this definition. While we are still currently developing this methodology, we are sharing the current progress and structure because we strongly value the input of market experts, potential suppliers, potential buyers, and experience verifiers in existing carbon markets. Our intention is to leverage the experience of our community to create a robust methodology that will provide credible and verifiable CRCs for buyers, thus creating a trusted marketplace for carbon removal that will actually help decrease total atmospheric CO2 levels.

A) Process for Carbon Removal: Soil

The first methodology that Nori is developing (and the focus of this podcast episode) is for carbon sequestration in croplands in North America. The adoption of regenerative farming practices would be considered the “technology” or “process” for carbon removal.

Nori is focused on regenerative agriculture as a first methodology due to the immense co-benefits and urgency. Soil erosion and degradation of agricultural lands are serious issues that will have devastating impact on our food economy if they go unmitigated. Carbon storage in soils is vital to not only to climate change reversal, but also to improving the quality of our agricultural lands by restoring soil health and improving the success of farmers to increase their land health and increase crop yields in the long term.

B) Method to apply for listing a project

Projects for carbon removal will qualify if they have implemented one or more of the following regenerative agricultural practices: livestock rotational grazing, reduced or no-till, and cover crop. Information required includes: crop type, time of harvest, tillage, irrigation, cover crop, and livestock management practices. This information would be required for each plot of land under the project management and would be entered into COMET-Farm.

COMET-Farm’s DAYCENT model would then generate a dynamic baseline for estimated carbon stock in the soil of the plots of land described by the information provided. It also provides a projected change in soil carbon. The image below illustrates this, where the dotted lines represent projected estimates. The difference between these projections are what determines the potential CRC listing for your project.

C) Verification, Maintenance, Auditing, and Rating of CRCs

The verification procedures are methodology-dependent, i.e. verification protocols are carbon removal technology specific. While the details of each verification protocol will be outlined in separate documentation and can be found in Nori’s github repository, here is outlined the general process for verifying carbon removal. Each verification protocol will is consist three components:

  1. Listing verification

Once the project information is used to estimate the potential CRCs over a period of time, the supplier will need to contact a 3rd party verifier who will conduct the aforementioned verification attestations.

The estimation of carbon removal potential represented by CRCs over time depends on the information provided by the supplier (project developer). Hence, after an initial CRC estimate is determined for a project and before these CRCs can be listed into the Nori queue, a verifier must attest three things to be true. The following list is referred to in this paper as “verification attestations”.

  • The supplier (project developer) has the right to list the project.
  • The data provided by the supplier is accurate.
  • The project is not listed on other registries.

2. Maintenance of project verification status

Suppliers will need to maintain project data and have that data verified over a given period of time (as outlined in each Nori methodology’s verification protocol) in order to maintain project listings.

In the case of carbon removal through soils, project suppliers will be required to agree to a contract that states that the project will maintain the current or better practices for carbon storage in soil, i.e. no tilling the land after listing the project as a no-till project on Nori. Because of this requirement, there will be a yearly requirement to provide accurate data on that years land management practices, and in order to list the CRCs for increased carbon stocks in the land over that year, the supplier would have to pay a verifier to conduct the off-site verification of data once again.

NOTE: Because Nori will need inventory of CRCs to launch the marketplace, we will be grandfathering CRCs for past carbon removal for projects that have and are still storing carbon in soils with the continuous use of regenerative practices. This means, if you were to list your project in the Fall of 2018, you wouldn’t need to complete step 2 until a year later, in the Fall of 2019.

3. Random auditing

Projects will be subject to on-site auditing. In the case of carbon removal through soils, auditing can take place randomly from anywhere between 3 and 7 years after project listing. If the auditor finds that the grower has misrepresented the information or violated the terms of the contract (by no longer practicing the reported regenerative farming practices), then the supplier would then be blacklisted and would be subject to legal repercussions outlined in the contract agreement with Nori LLC.

4. CRC Rating

Because CRCs are generated based on the quality of data provided, not all CRCs will be the same and thus will be rated differently. Rating of CRCs can increase over time, as the data and/or estimation improves. This includes the quantity and quality of soil sample data, operational farm data, and additional IoT sensor data. This tool and method for rating is currently under development.

More details to come

If you’re interested in learning more about Nori’s methodology, please join us on July 19th and 30th for our webinars that discuss how the CRCs are quantified (B from list above) and how they are verified (C from above). You can register for the webinars at https://nori.com/webinars