Present-day farming practices contribute to 15% of all greenhouse gases (GHGs) released into the atmosphere. The Packard Foundation makes grants, through its agriculture program, to find ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen pollution, and environmental effects caused by current agricultural practices.
To complement this grantmaking, the Foundation in 2011 made a $1.5 million PRI investment in the EKO Green Carbon Fund (now part of Encourage Capital) to support the development of carbon offset markets as a tool to fight climate change, especially in the agricultural arena. Specifically, the Foundation’s investment in the Green Carbon Fund will be used to develop land-based carbon reduction projects. Some of these projects involve changing forest management practices to preserve more trees over time, and to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
About half of the Foundation’s investment in the EKO Green Carbon Fund is earmarked for agricultural carbon projects. These involve reducing fertilizer usage, implementing better soil nutrient management, and improving rice cultivation and other cropland methodologies. In addition to the direct environmental impacts of the projects themselves, these projects will provide models and credibility to pave the way for future forestry and agricultural carbon projects, and can help further refine carbon project methodologies for use by the emerging carbon offset markets. This is particularly critical in agriculture, where carbon reduction protocols are still being researched and developed. Moreover, through its investments EKO sends a market signal to landowners, project developers, regulators and other investors that land-based carbon offset projects are economically viable and can attract investment capital, thereby helping to combat skepticism of climate change and carbon markets.