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A summary version of this piece is available in another IATP publication, entitled A Climate-smart Idea? Understanding the Politics, Practices and Players of the Agricultural Soil Carbon Market.

The arcane topic of soil carbon sequestration has become an item of significant political debate around the edges of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This brief provides an introduction to:

  • the market basics of soil carbon sequestration;
  • the organizations involved in turning soil and other agricultural carbon into a commodity and creating a supply of that commodity;
  • the curious role of the World Bank as carbon broker, trader and political manipulator, seeking rules at the UNFCCC that could serve to create demand for soil carbon.

We end the brief looking forward at new initiatives by agricultural carbon market proponents and the need for alternative policies that refocus attention on the needs of the small-scale farmers who are the least responsible for climate change and yet suffering its greatest impacts.