Insider Series


Kering, Rare, and South Pole conducted a carbon insetting feasibility study to scale climate-smart agriculture practices for cotton farmers in China. This report proposes a roadmap of feasible CSA interventions, with an estimate of how they will reduce and sequester greenhouse gases. It also aims to help make the business case for farmers and demonstrates how brands can account for GHG emission reductions as part of their Scope 3 Science-based Targets commitments.

What’s unique about the work you do?

We believe that more farmers will adopt CSA practices at scale if soil improvement practices are more intentionally promoted within both BCI and organic systems. The methods should also be tied to short term impacts (physical soil improvements visible to farmers) and longer-term effects (soil organic matter). Based on a rate of adoption of 8-15 percent on two BCI farms in China, which have started transitioning towards organic, the report found that adopting composting and improved windbreak tree systems can lead to a total emission reduction of 36,548-73,433 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over five years. A carbon insetting model as outlined in this report offers a potential roadmap that can meet the needs of both farmers and brands towards having a positive impact

Rare 1

What do you think are the biggest challenges when it comes to shifting the needle in cotton?

Farmers in China have grown cotton for decades and increasingly observed severe soil degradation from years of intensive high input agriculture. In recent years, they have begun to realize that this vicious cycle of high input, high output production system is unsustainable. It is critical to identify and demonstrate a pathway for farmers to make the transition to regenerative practices to break this cycle. Specifically, there is an essential need to help farmers focus on practices that restore soil health while also sequestering carbon over time, like composting. Also, the lack of a clear demand for in-transition cotton has been one of the significant challenges that farmers currently transitioning towards organic face.

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What are currently the biggest threats related to climate change faced by your project / initiative? (e.g. water scarcity, extreme weather events, etc.)

Xinjiang is particularly vulnerable to climate change as its primary water source comes from glaciers. China’s total glacial area has declined by one-fifth since the seventeenth century (Yao, 2007). The water problem is further exacerbated by unsustainable water use. The region is losing 5.5 gigatons of terrestrial water storage each year (NASA, 2018). According to the 2016 Xinjiang Water Resource Bulletin, agriculture consumes 94 percent of the total water usage, especially water-intensive crops like cotton, which is entirely dependent on irrigation. The results are an increasing exploitation of surface and underground water.

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What are the top three SDGs being addressed by your project / initiative?

SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 15: Life on Land, and SDG 17: Partnerships

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Fiber / Material