Saskatchewan’s government is planning to move ahead with its own voluntary carbon offset credit market, which would potentially see farmers receive payments for practices that sequester or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan to move ahead with the provincial offset program was included in the throne speech delivered by Lt. Gov. Russ Mirasty on October 26.
“To help lower global greenhouse gas emissions and to recognize the sustainability of Saskatchewan commodities sold around the world, my government will create a made-in-Saskatchewan program to generate voluntary carbon offset credits to producers and companies whose commodities have lower greenhouse gas emissions than global averages,” read the text of the speech.
“These offset credits can then be used by Saskatchewan producers and companies as part of their own efforts to voluntarily reduce emissions or can be traded to others for similar purposes.”
The speech also noted that “in 2020, Saskatchewan sequestered nearly 13 million tonnes of carbon in its agricultural soils, the equivalent of taking 2.78 million cars off the road for a year.”
Further details about the made-in-Saskatchewan offset program have not been announced or determined at this time. There was no mention of the timeline for developing the program and the compliance protocols that would be required for measuring greenhouse gas reductions. It’s also not clear whether the Saskatchewan government is hoping the program could serve as an alternative to the federal carbon tax in the province. There are also questions around how the Saskatchewan program would handle the “additionality” requirement of most carbon markets, as it would preclude existing practices, such as zero-till, from being recognized. (RealAgriculture has requested more information/interviews.)
While there are also opportunities for farmers to potentially sell carbon offsets in private markets, the federal government has been working on a greenhouse gas offset credit system that was originally announced in the 2019 budget. As of October 2022, the only protocol in place for federal offset credits applies to methane emissions from landfills. When it comes to farming practices, Environment and Climate Change Canada is developing protocols for enhanced soil organic carbon and livestock feed management. The department says it’s also considering protocols for livestock manure management and anaerobic digestion.
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