Carbon trading warning over land

The chair of Scotland’s land reform body, the Scottish Land Commission, has urged landowners and land managers to act with caution when considering selling carbon credits.

Andrew Thin said concerns had been raised from people across different land use sectors and the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum about the pressures farmers and crofters were facing to sign over carbon rights.

“This is a fledgling market and there is a risk decisions are being made without full awareness of the implications for individual land managers,” said Thin.

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He encouraged landowners and managers to exercise caution until there was greater clarity over issues such as ownership of the rights and the need to retain them in offsetting their own business emissions in the future.

“The Scottish Land Commission is carrying out work to understand the influence of natural capital in the land market and to help inform advice to the Scottish government on the risks, opportunities and appropriate steps to ensure the market works in the public interest.”

A similar warning had been given in the Farming for 1.5 Degrees report, which recommended a moratorium.

“There are risks of farmers reducing the value of their land and making it harder to sell if they have already sold their soil carbon rights. Also, selling those rights outwith Scottish agriculture means the credit does not appear either on the farm account (so the farm can’t claim for example o be ‘carbon positive’) or on the national account,” noted the group’s report.