With carbon farming, agriculture takes a holistic approach to address climate change, among the top climate-change culprits. Essentially, the goal is to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere, where it causes global warming, and store it in the soil, where it aids plant growth. In principle, it’s pretty straightforward – in practice, it’s a bit more complicated.

This topic was brought together and discussed at a high level at the AgriFood Forum 2022. During the discussion, we heard some insights from representatives of businesses and the government.

Since the topic of carbon farming is closely related to farmers, the moderator of the discussion – Živilė Kropaitė-Basiulė, started the discussion with a question for Raimundas Juknevičius, Chairman of Lithuanian Farmers’ Union about how we can define carbon farming.

“When we refer to carbon on the market, we have the green policy of the EU which aims to cut carbon emissions by 2050 and to make it climate-neutral. But it doesn’t mean that we will not have CO2 emissions at all. It means that we will have lower CO2 emissions and will be able to compensate for them. We also have to be able to evaluate whether those measures are effective or not, because the idea is physically related to the issue of our climate change, biodiversity.” – Raimundas Juknevičius.

The second aspect of carbon farming improvement was the financing of farmers. One of the examples that Raimundas Juknevičius presented was a farmer who wanted to make his entire farm green. The more he realized the importance of funding, the more difficult it became to make his idea a reality. The participant of the discussion openly stated that regulations are lacking in the European Union. According to him, there are only two systems, where you need to be recognized and certified before you can play. The importance of having a clear measurement system cannot be overstated, for the purpose of educating and consulting farmers.

No carrot – no motivation

A carbon credit is a permit that allows the owner to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. For each credit, one ton of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gases is allowed to be emitted. Polluting companies receive credits that enable them to continue polluting up to a certain limit, which is periodically lowered. As a result, the company may sell any credits that are not needed to another company that needs them. Thus, private companies are doubly motivated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Spending money on extra credits if their emissions exceed the limit is the first step. They can also make money by reducing their emissions and selling their excess allowances.

Talking about these carbon credits Vidmantas Janulevičius, President of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, has mentioned that in 2014-2015 one tone of CO2 cost 3 euros, and now it is 75 euros, and it was 98 euros a few months ago. This is a specific unit of measure, and all renewable programs are financed by this mechanism.

“We don’t have carbon credits, we were talking about Emission allowances, emissions trading systems. Credits would be granted in advance. Some manufacturers already reached the ceiling and they will definitely need carbon credits. If there is no carrot there is no motivation for the actions. We should have a system where we can reward farmers,” – said Vidmantas Janulevičius.

In addition to his words Arnas Radzevičius, Head of Agro Precision Technology Division at Agrokoncernas, underlined that our system lacks maturity as well. According to him, it is vital to support ideas and solutions that can offer different levels of carbon locking in farms or carbon capture.

CEO at Dojus Group, Donatas Dailidė suggested that carbon credits have to be bought and used locally. Another thing that he talked about is the measures on a free market where you are paid for carbon in advance. “If a farmer undertakes to implement a program, part of the credit is bought and sold to the markets. Right now, the market is being developed, and a lot of infrastructural products are being created to assess credits and so on. The banks are setting up a special department. What we need is regulations and clear rules. Then everyone would feel safer on the market and the value of a credit would increase.”

The director at Green Policy Institute, Remigijus Lapinskas has indicated that voluntary carbon farming is at the beginning stages not only in Lithuania but also elsewhere. As an industry will soon be forced to spend a huge amount of money for the search and acquisition of those credits, if by that time we will not be able to establish the system we may end up in the situation we had with waste money and packaging management a few years ago. Lithuania did not establish a proper system and did not control it sufficiently.

As of contribution with the Green Policy institute, Vidmantas Janulevičius talked about their joint contribution to the system. The need for educating people will be the priority. He said that it is important to read the documents that are being drafted and we have to see, plan, and forecast the future five years ahead. Otherwise, the situation will be stuck.