Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently released a publication that highlights the importance of soil carbon sequestration as an option for offsetting international aviation CO2 emissions.
According to a press release published by the FAO Representation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Organization estimates that domestic and international aviation togetherare responsible for approximately 2 per cent ofglobal anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
Even considering the technological and operational improvements planned by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a gap of 523 megatonnes CO2 emissions remains to meet their set emission reduction targets.
The informative publication by FAO entitled “Soils’ potential to contribute to offset international aviation emissions” presents soil carbon sequestration as an option for offsetting this emissions through a market-based mechanism within the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
The yearly amount of carbon released to the atmosphere from aviation represents 0.03% of the total carbon stored in soils.
Soils represent the largest pool of carbon on land, with an estimated stock of 1,417,000 megatonnes in the first meter – more than the sum of the carbon contained in the atmosphere (840 000 megatonnes of carbon) and vegetation (450 000-650 000 megatonnes of carbon).
In the first three meters of the soil, an even larger carbon mass of up to 2,344,000 megatonnes of carbon are estimated.
Soils interact strongly with atmospheric composition, climate, and land cover change. Human capacity to predict and ameliorate the consequences of global change depends in part on a better understanding of the distributions and controls of soil organic carbon.
The implementation of proven and successful practices for maintaining SOC stocks in carbon rich soils (peatlands, black soils, permafrost, etc) thus preventing emissions and, for sequestering more carbon in potential soils will address the challenge of compensating aviation emissions. Enhancement of the carbon content of soils does not only prevent emissions, but can also store more Carbon from the atmosphere all the while contributing to the enhancement of food security and nutrition, poverty reduction and building resilience to shocks and climate change.
Success stories of FAO projects such as the development and implementation of the Quesungual System in Honduras can enhance soil carbon stocks, thus mitigating increasing contents of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and at the same time improving food security and climate change resilience.