Key takeaways from this year’s Beef Value Chain Roundtable

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Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

On October 21 and 22, 2021, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association hosted the Beef Value Chain Roundtable meeting virtually with various industry stakeholders focused on the theme of ,“All things Carbon”. Some of the key takeaways included:

 

1. Demand for Carbon Credits

There has been recognition that in order to reach the Paris Agreement of keeping global temperatures 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, that multi-national corporations will play a big role alongside governments. As such, many multi-national corporations are setting updated, more ambitious climate targets. This is creating opportunities in the voluntary carbon market for agricultural producers. Scope 3 targets require organizations to look for implications of carbon emissions outside of their direct physical footprint, quantifying emissions through the value chain outside of the organization’s direct control. Scope 3 pathways are important for agricultural supply chains as this is where many commodities will be examined within a corporate value chain.

 

In addition, as governments ramp up the ambition on their climate targets, regulated companies in some jurisdictions must pay for offsets if they are unable to reach the emissions reduction levels set, driving demand in the regulated carbon market. Regulated companies noted the need for policy certainty as planning around climate activities are long-term. There was appreciation for the push to have provinces develop plans out to 2030 as that will support the market.

 

2. Protocol Development

There is a role for champions of protocol development, identifying what is needed for the beef industry to participate in voluntary carbon markets and what needs further research or development. For example, the “Conservation Cropping” protocol in Alberta for annual cropping systems is set to expire this year (Dec 2021). What will replace it? It takes time for protocols to go from submission to approval. And in many cases, it takes 3-4 revisions to get protocols to work well for all parties; taking the time to trial protocols is important to find workable solutions. As provinces are developing climate policies out to 2030, there is a need for the beef industry to provide input into what protocols are developed and ensure they work for producers.

 

3. Research, Technology and Innovation

There is a need for more investment in research and technology that is practical and cost effective for implementation (specifically for carbon sequestration measurements, but in other areas as well). The focus for the next five years is expected to be on discovery, in other words, trying lots of things. But in the five years leading up to 2030, there will be a shift to identifying what works and scaling up.

 

4. Approval of new products and technologies

Things are moving quickly in the area of climate mitigation. As research brings new products to market, these products need to go through the entire regulatory approval process. New technologies also need technology transfer and communication to be commercially adopted. While some of these processes are already in place, others need to be created as existing pathways do not have an “environmental benefit” option for the product’s purpose.

 

5. Conversations and Collaborations

This is a dynamic field right now with a lot of activity by many players. To ensure objectives are met for agricultural producers, environmental organizations, and multi-national companies, collaboration and communication is critical in developing protocols, standards and verifications that work for each. In addition, it is important to keep conversations going with consumers about the role of agriculture in both reductions and removals, as they are becoming more worried about climate change. The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference is currently taking place in Glasgow, Scotland with a focus on climate change commitments.

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