Air Resources Board approves rice cultivation carbon offset protocol, expands forestry offset protocol
SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board today approved a new carbon offset protocol that will allow rice farmers to receive credit for using best practices for rice cultivation. The Rice Offset Protocol joins five other offset protocols developed under California’s cap-and-trade program.
“This protocol provides rice growers an opportunity to do something good for the environment as well as save water, and benefit financially from those efforts,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “The protocol is designed to be used not only in California but all rice-growing states, sharing the benefits with growers there while providing another cost-effective way for companies in the program to comply with cap-and-trade.”
Carbon offsets come from greenhouse gas emission reductions in sectors that are not regulated by the cap-and-trade program.
Under the protocol, growers who use approved methods for dry seeding, drainage practices, and handling rice straw receive credits based on avoided emissions of methane. The Cap-and-Trade Program evaluates methane as being 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide for trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Each credit a grower receives is the equivalent of a metric ton of carbon dioxide. The grower can sell those credits to companies regulated by the cap-and-trade program.
In California, growers can receive credit through practices such as dry seeding and early drainage of fields in preparation for harvest. These growing practices allow for continued use of flooded fields as winter bird habitat, but reduce the amount of rice straw left to decompose in the water.
The rice protocol has been designed with additional region-specific practices to allow credit generation in other rice growing parts of the country.
The Air Resources Board also approved amendments to the Forestry Offset Protocol which will allow development and crediting of projects in the state of Alaska that are not in National Forests. Previously the cap-and-trade regulation restricted offset development to the contiguous 48 states.
The forestry protocol allows companies to purchase offsets generated through forest management that increases the amount of carbon stored in a specific project site above what would have been there without the prescribed management in place.
The carbon offset protocols used by California and its cap-and-trade partner, Québec, are the most stringent in the world. All projects are subject to annual audits, performed by specially trained, accredited, third-party verifiers and Air Resources Board staff. Each project then undergoes a separate evaluation by Air Resources Board staff before any credits can be issued.
You can find the Rice Offset Protocol and other offset protocols by clicking here.