Food security and global CO2 levels are both very serious issues facing the world today.
NMT is making Carbon Damage Mitigation Certificates (CDMC's) available for purchase to directly fund smallholder macadamia agroforestry in Malawi via the NMT Carbon Calculator. The certificates finance food security in Malawi based on nut trees planted and maintained primarily as a sustainable food source whilst also absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.
A CDMC links the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by a producer with an absorber of CO2. It registers the mass of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere with a process that absorbs an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. The NMT Carbon Calculator calculates a mass of CO2 emitted by a CDMC purchaser and registers it with a known number of macadamia trees that have been planted by smallholders in Malawi. The cost of the CDMC directly funds the farmers who plant and maintain annually surveyed trees that are registered as absorbing an equivalent mass of the emitted CO2. +
The trees have an average absorption rate of CO2 per year and a CDMC remains valid for a year before it is retired. The purpose is to provide a strong link between those using CO2 such that macadamia farmers can receive direct funding for the trees they plant AND maintain annually. The CO2 sequestration by the trees needs to continue for 25 years to be effective. The primary purpose of the trees is for food security which then increases the security of the tree for a minimum 25 year lifespan. In Malawi the trees are also viewed as a pension crop investment, even for young farmers which increases the 25 year security of the tree.
Reasons and explanations for the importance of mitigating for carbon emissions with macadamia tree sequestration are provided here.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up about 0.04% of the Earth's atmosphere. The other major gases are:
A very important property of atmospheric CO2 is its absorption of infrared radiation from the Earth's surface. This absorbs heat energy from the Earth which would otherwise escape into space - known as the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, are important for preventing the Earth cooling from heat radiation losses but also if atmospheric concentrations are too high cause an increase of Earth's temperature. Each greenhouse gas has an index known as the Global Warming Potential (GWP) indicating how significantly it contributes to insulating the Earth from heat loss. CO2 has the standard GWP = 1.
Current atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas CO2 are now high, resulting in the rising temperatures being measured on Earth. The figures shown here indicate this.
Figure 1. shows data from ice core measurements indicating a relationship between CO2 and Antarctic temperatures. Notably global temperatures are correlated with CO2 concentrations.
Figure 2. shows the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations measured from 1958 to 2018. Most notably atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by about 30% over the last 60 years.
Figure 3 shows that the last 165 years of annual average temperature recordings from the UK Oxford weather station clearly showing a general increase in temperature from approximately 9.5°C in the 1850's to 11°C in the 2000's.
When looking at this data it is very important to note that the temperature will correlate by a time lag that is not visible in Figure 1 because of the huge time scale (800,000 years). Also to note that Figure 1 shows the correlation between CO2 levels and temperature is very strongly correlated but also statistical and not an exact one-to-one match.
These three sets of clear, independent and long-term data show that action and response are required.
It is well established that many human activities emit large volumes of CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere. Hence it is possible to adjust human activity to reduce and compensate for CO2 emissions from human activity. A significant area of human activity that generates CO2 emission involves trees around all parts of the globe. Deforestation and the removal of trees increases the emission of CO2 whilst also reducing the absorption of CO2 which occurs when trees grow building up wood mass by the fundamental process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis basically converts water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into a carbon chain (n CH2) and oxygen (O2). The absorption of CO2 is known as sequestration.
Because trees produce oxygen and sequester CO2 the removal of trees and deforestation increases the problem of CO2 emission. The Neno Macadamia Trust is focusing on building and promoting agroforestry as a way to reverse deforestation and also mitigate CO2 emission damage. Agroforestry is the use of trees to provide food but the trees also sequester (absorb) CO2. NMT specifically promotes and enables macadamia agroforestry in Malawi with the primary benefit being food security, especially for smallholder farmers. Carbon sequestration through agroforestry is not quite the same as sequestration through general reforestation programs because the trees are in a closer, more direct relationship with those who plant and maintain the trees. The tree itself, its structure and mass of sequestered CO2 require ongoing maintenance because of the food security it provides, rather than simply its sequestered carbon mass.
Important secondary benefits are improving the sustainability of the environment: locally for the soil in particular and globally in terms of CO2 sequestration. It can be described as Climate Smart Macadamia Agroforestry (CSMA).
NMT is building a way of funding CSMA in Malawi by providing carbon offsetting for people in developed countries to purchase carbon damage mitigation certificates (CDMC's) that directly support smallholder farmers who are actively planting and sustaining healthy macadamia trees. NMT is working with a UK academic organisation called Profs Who Fly as well as individuals who can purchase CDMC's via the recently developed NMT Carbon Calculator. Early stages of the work are providing NMT with a small quota of high value CDMC's linked to CO2 sequestering macadamia trees in various parts of Malawi. CDMC's purchased directly fund the smallholder farmers which enables them and the co-operatives which they work within to invest in further macadamia agroforestry within their smallholder communities. This is enabled by the close working relationship between NMT in the UK and HIMACUL (The Highland Macadamia Cooperative Union Limited in Malawi).
The quality of macadamia tree CO2 sequestration is high because the lifetime and health of the trees are connected to the food security that they provide for the smallholder farmers. NMT is currently selling the carbon offset value at £25 per tonne of CO2 (tCO2). This is close to the higher BEIS price specified by the UK Government compared to lower prices often used for single purpose tree sequestration (see UK Government BEIS updated short-term traded carbon values and Table 1 of the 2018 PDF for further details). NMT uses the higher value partly because the agroforestry improves the security of a sequestering tree through being maintained and fruiting for its full 25 year sequestering lifetime. It will provide food security and local environmental security for the smallholders who invest time and resources into planting the trees and maintaining the health of the trees.
In recent years NMT has started to carry out regular surveys of the trees that are linked to CDMC's to monitor their health and to add further sequestering trees for CDMC availability in future years. This will provide encouragement and financial support for the communities to extend their agroforestry activities.
The NMT Carbon Calculator enables a purchaser to calculate a mass of CO2 emission based on:
- an air flight;
- number of miles driven by a vehicle;
- fuel used for domestic heating;
The mass of CO2 calculated is then allocated to macadamia trees planted by smallholder farmers in Malawi which sequester the CO2. NMT prices the CO2 at £25 / tCO2. The calculator provides full results of tonnes of CO2 emitted as a function of distance flown from an extensive set of international airports, or from vehicle fuel consumption and mileage information.
The purchaser can then buy the uniquely valued CDMC via the calculator.