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Nitrogen fertilizer reduction for Dianchi Lake in China

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The Climate Trust is exploring the potential to generate carbon credits from changes in agricultural nutrient management practices. This work has most recently led our executive director, Sean Penrith, to Portland's sister city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. The goal of the trip was to scope the potential to harness the power of the country's new emissions trading systems to reduce agricultural runoff pollution in one of the province's major water sources, Dianchi Lake. The following presentation outlines the problem, and how carbon markets might be able to help.

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Nitrogen fertilizer reduction for Dianchi Lake in China

  1. 1. Nitrogen fertilizer reduction for Dianchi Lake in China Sean Penrith Executive Director
  2. 2. Problem Statement  Farming practices in Kunming are polluting Dianchi Lake  55% of the lake's fish population has been killed off by pollution  The lake water is rated Grade V (the worst grade) which makes the water unfit for agricultural or industrial uses
  3. 3. Problem Statement  Nitrogen is the key input to global agriculture and China uses over 1/3 of total nitrogen fertilizer produced  Can be produced using either coal or natural gas; China uses mostly coal  Less than 50% of nitrogen is absorbed by plants  Unabsorbed nitrogen damages the environment  Water pollution (ground and surface water)  Air pollution (Greenhouse Gas Emissions)  Nutrient management can help!
  4. 4. Nutrient Management Overview Step 1: Farmers apply less nitrogen fertilizers to their fields Step 2: Credits are generated from the resulting emission reductions Step 3: Credits can be sold on the market and revenue returned to the farmer
  5. 5. Practices that reduce emissions  Reduction in application rate  Cover cropping  Injection into soil  Changing type of fertilizer  Changing timing of applications
  6. 6. Benefits of Carbon Trading  A cleaner lake  More revenue for farmers  Credits to comply with ETS  Reduce GHGs in atmosphere
  7. 7. Generation of Credits  The process is cyclical; the successful sale of credits causes more farmers to want to participate
  8. 8. Scale  Depends primarily on the credits per acre of a project  In the US, this is very low (usually less than 1 credit per acre)  Therefore it is important to be able to aggregate many fields together to make the project attractive to buyers
  9. 9. Data Needs  Based on nitrogen reduction methodologies based on the US corn belt (adaptation needed for Kunming pilot)  Each growing season is one year of the project  Projects need 5 years of historical data to establish a baseline condition  Key inputs needed:  Amount of nitrogen applied (baseline and project)  Nitrogen rate of fertilizer (baseline and project)  Precipitation and evapotranspiration data
  10. 10. Questions  Has NDRC approved any methodologies for nitrogen management on farms?  What crops are grown most often in Kunming?  Is anyone collecting data on nitrogen fertilizers being applied?  Who advises farmers on nutrient management practices?  How do applicable incentive programs interact with nutrient management practices?
  11. 11. The market  7 pilot trading schemes each allow offsets for 5-10% of compliance  National ETS to be launched in 2016  Offset projects allowed are based on CDM methodologies and focus primarily on renewable energy, fuel switching and capture/destruction of methane and other short lived pollutants
  12. 12. Thank you!  65 SW Yamhill St. Suite 400, Portland Oregon, U.S.A.  Ph. 503-238-1918 ext. 202  spenrith@climatetrust.org  www.climatetrust.org

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