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Regenerative agriculture is raising a lot of climate hopes – and a lot of concerns

Why we can’t count on carbon-sucking farms to slow climate change
Even though lots of politicians, environmentalists, and companies are eager to try.

Corporations, politicians, and environmentalists have all embraced carbon farming as the feel-good climate solution of the moment.

Several leading Democratic presidential contenders highlighted the potential to alter farming practices to suck up more carbon dioxide in their climate plans. And the presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, declared last summer: “Soil is the next frontier for storing carbon.”

Companies like BP, General Mills, Kellogg, Microsoft, and Shell have all announced plans or joined initiatives that will direct their suppliers to adopt the techniques or pay farmers who do so to obtain so-called offsets credits. These allow the businesses to claim credit for the carbon dioxide pulled out of the atmosphere, without cutting emissions from their own operations.

In addition, several venture capital-backed startups have set up soil offsets marketplaces that allow companies and nonprofits to purchase credits from farmers. Most notably that includes Indigo Agriculture, which has raised more than $850 million to date to build up its soil carbon business and other operations.

And now an influential California nonprofit, the Climate Action Reserve, is in the process of writing standards for soil carbon offsets, which would offer a stamp of approval likely to spur more people and businesses to buy these credits

But there’s a big problem: there is little evidence that carbon farming works as well as promised.
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