What is a baseline generator and why does Nori need one to launch?
About three months have passed, but it’s the perfect time to brush off the dust and reflect on the podcast that we recorded with Dr. Keith Paustian. On it, we painted a picture of a world that had reversed the amount of emissions coming from agriculture. Instead of emitting carbon dioxide from all of the plowing, fuels spent, and CO2 emitted from producing agricultural products (i.e. Ammonia refining to make fertilizer which is responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions), the things we do to land to produce value can be as simple as 1) plow less 2) rotate crops more and 3) plant cover crops and use soil amendments to improve the soil health. And we geek out about ways to quantify and estimate carbon removal from things we can do to the land.
Reversapalooza had just ended and Paustian had to catch a plane. On the podcast we covered a good deal of ground. And ways to put carbon back into the ground. Ross was so grounded that he let he let me drive the entire interview. I get it, the ability to create dynamic carbon stock baselines might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a key piece to how Nori is going to launch.
What is COMET-Farm?
COMET-Farm is a tool that was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Resource and Conservation Services (NRCS) and Colorado State University. It is a whole farm and ranch carbon accounting system. What that means is that it estimates the ‘carbon footprint’ for all or part of a farm/ranch operation and allows the user to evaluate different options, for reducing GHG emissions and sequestering more carbon. It provides general guidance about potential changes to management practices that are likely to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers and advisors to farmers use COMET-Farm to apply for different NRCS grants and make land management choices. This video provides a good overview of how COMET Farm works.
How is it a baseline generator and how does that fit with Nori?
A baseline generator is a person or entity qualified to evaluate operating data and other evidence provided by a potential Carbon Removal Certificate (CRC) supplier who has the demonstrated scientific, analytical, and modelling expertise to convert the supplied evidence into a CRC quantity estimate, with associated estimated error range. COMET-Farm acts as a baseline generator in our system because it is a tool that can estimate how much carbon can be put away or reduced based on certain inputs. We like it, because it uses a model which is peer reviewed. This is what allows someone to list CRCs. These CRCs still need to be verified, but Nori uses the baseline generator to take the risk of how much it will need to pay out.
Will there be more baseline generators?
We expect there to be! This is going to be a critical part to adding new methodologies and improving existing ones that don’t have the capacity to provide an immediate reading of carbon removed. What they will need to do is publish their methods to create carbon removal estimates and make that subject to peer review. There are many individual baseline generators already using calculations which they do not make public. These same people could participate in the transparent Nori marketplace. We will require baseline generators to come with uncertainty estimates — and will be looking for ways to reduce those uncertainty estimates. Each new methodology that requires estimations to incentivize carbon removal, will require a new baseline generator. New baseline generators will allow us to expand methodologies to new regions. That said, we are excited to get this going by collaborating with COMET Farm here in the United States.
For all the farmers
One of my favorite points that Paustian made on the podcast was that in the future, farmers will be able to not just see $/acre in terms of just the harvest alone, but also from getting paid from improving the carbon.
For those interested in getting in on the ground floor, my colleague Alexsandra and I cover the sort of data and listing requirements in a recent webinar we talk about what it means to be a supplier, and how people can get involved with us as an early adopter.
Long story short, if you’ve gotten to this part of the article, and you are someone who was interested in participating in the Nori marketplace as a supplier: create a profile on COMET farm and fill out all the information you can. And then subscribe to our newsletter as a “supplier.”