Accreditation, Certification & Verification
The quantification methodology embodied in the Hemp Carbon Standard has been accredited to ISO 14064-2:2019 standard which is used by several organisations worldwide for GHG methodologies and is the same standard as used by Verra and the Gold Standard. Compliance is audited and verified annually by a third party Validation & Verification Body (VVB). This enables the procedure for the Hemp Carbon Standard to quantify, monitor, report activities that reduce and/ or remove biogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Our quantification methodology has been third-party validated and verified.
In alignment with to the latest United Nations IPCC science, we quantify carbon sequestration from the fields participating in the Hemp Carbon Standard programme, based on a variety of different information relating to remote monitoring and field information, etc.
Remote Sensing and AI
Hemp Carbon Standard couples data from eddy covariance flux towers, satellite imagery with AI, machine learning and ground-truth data to provide outputs relating to field boundaries.
Our enhanced remote sensing capabilities allow us to monitor, verify and report field boundaries.
To supplement and build upon this, Hemp Carbon Standard reserves the right to call for random crop sampling. Crop sampling is done by independent experts and may be used during the internal verification process and to capture the most accurate organic carbon data results possible.
Whenever the climate crisis is discussed it is common for the concept of Global Warming to get interwoven into the conversation. There is good reason for this though, as human activity has been increasing the concentration of a set of gases referred to as Greenhouse Gases. These key gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), and Methane (CH4) to name a few. These gases all absorb and store energy entering the atmosphere or energy being radiated back out, creating a Greenhouse effect, leading to an increase in global temperatures. Each of these gases have a different a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1, 39 and 298 times when compared to CO2. Through understanding these differences, a common international measurement unit of CO2eq has been created.
Hemp Carbon Standard is based on a comprehensive methodology that promotes sustainable practices which aim at improving plant organic matter content, increase GHG sequestration and achieving permanence of GHG storage.
The methodology is built into our proprietary service platform that captures our farmers’ activities at field level, year on year allowing us quantify the yearly GHG removals.
Carbon capture and storage starts with plants, sunshine, and a bit of rain. Through the mechanism of photosynthesis, plants use the energy from the sun to capture atmospheric carbon in the form of CO2. The carbon is utilized by the plant to make sugars for growth and O2 as a waste product.
The two main pools of biomass stored carbon that are important, are the above-ground biomass and below-ground biomass (roots). Above ground biomass is providing carbon to the soil once it begins to degrade. This can happen when it has been mulched and left on the field or following incorporation into the soil. Below-ground biomass carbon becomes stored when there are anaerobic conditions e.g, oxygen free environment and it is transformed into Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC).
Denitrification is a microbial reduction of nitrate and nitrite in which gaseous forms of nitrogen are formed e.g., nitrous oxide (N2O) or Nitrogen (N2). As mentioned above, it is essential to target Nitrogen sources due to its extreme warming potential. The release of Nitrous Oxide can be mitigated through the use of nitrogen inhibitors or through reduced aeration and disturbance of the soil.
The below listed parameters are parameters which the Hemp Carbon Standard program is following in order to quantify removals. All in all, these practices help grow healthier crops while sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon. They form more climate resilient systems, and increase the biodiversity of ecosystems, as well as support the above ground diversity, such as bees and insects, reduces flood risks, and improve water quality.
The job of cover crops is primarily to improve the soil. They are planted after the cash crops are harvested, to keep a green cover all year around. The benefits of a full year green cover are improved soil aggregate stability, reduced erosion and nutrient runoff, improved water infiltration and holding capacity, reduced disease risk, weed and insect cycles, and increase in biodiversity. In case of a very wet field, cover crops will reduce soil moisture for the next cash crop.
Potential risks: Seed, fuel, and planting costs may not offset economic benefits of cover crops in short term, but long-term improvements are seen. Cover crops immobilize nitrogen, which means that the nitrogen is unavailable for the subsequent crop. Furthermore, climate and management practices will affect the benefits of cover crops, and certain cover crop types can be difficult to terminate, which creates the risk of them becoming a weed.
Reduced soil disturbance and no-tillage practices leads to less soil erosion due to reduced soil disturbances, less soil compaction due to lower machinery use – and thereby also lower fuel costs, lower labour costs due to less field pass overs, less moisture loss and all in all – healthier soils.
Potential risks: There are initial cost of no tillage equipment, there might be a steep learning curve for new techniques, a potential increase in chemical use if it isn’t done right, and gullies can form.
Use of organic fertilization
A key component of more climate- and environmentally friendly practices is the use of organic fertilizer, as it contributes greatly to improving soil organic matter and soil activity, as organic fertilizers have many sources, such as vegetables, animals, and residue materials. It is cheaper than synthetic fertilizer and contains additional micro-nutrients beyond the synthetic. It reduces leaching potential and supply-chain emissions, and it potentially provides N supplies for future crops.
Potential risks: The nutrient content of organic fertilizers vary and they are generally applied when there is no crop on the field. Organic fertilizer requires more machinery, it requires biological processes to become plant accessible, and lastly, supplies are limited.
Healthy residue management
Crop residue management systems include conservation agriculture practices such as no-till, which provide sufficient residue cover to protect the soil surface from the erosive effects of wind and water. It promotes soil biodiversity as well as above ground biodiversity, it reduces soil emissions depending on residue, C:N ratio (NOx and ammonia) and prevent nutrient leaching (N, P). In warmer climates it also serves as water retention.
Potential risks: Can increase N emissions with high N-containing residues, increase risk of fungal diseases in wet climates, economic losses if residues were previously sold.
Active crop rotation
Having a yearly yield with a well-planned crop rotation is an effective way to improve the outcome of the fields. Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land to combat pest and weed pressure, as well as improve soil health and optimize nutrients in the soil. The combination of these factors results in improved soil organic matter, restoration of soil fertility and structure, as well as erosion and flood control.
Potential risks: Nutrient availability for the subsequent crop (leguminous cover crop), reduced yields due to expertise shortfalls, and new equipment costs.
Decreased fuel usage
Practicing reduced soil disturbance significantly reduces fuel consumption and therefore reduces supply chain emissions and costs. It also encourages more efficient vehicles in order to reduce time between farm activities.
Potential risks: May require new machinery, thus increasing investments. On/off engine cycling can damage equipment. Lastly, decreased fuel usage is hard to achieve without changes in other practices.
We have a number of minimum requirements built into our methodology, to avoid reversals, ensure permanence of GHG storage, prevent leakage and ensure traceability of the crop’s product use.
Throughout the full duration of the contract, Hemp Carbon Standard farmers will adhere to the minimum requirement of no burning to earn their certificates year on year. In addition, the land must remain cropland to stay eligible for the program.
No burning of residues
Successive fires on fields releases a significant amount of carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere. Moreover, the fires destroy the organic matter that makes soil fertile, causing crop yields to decrease over time and increasing the need for fertilizers.
The program is designed for active cropland, and it is therefore a requirement that the farmer has a yearly yield on the participating fields. A yearly yield with a well-planned crop rotation is an efficient way to combat pest and weed pressure, improve soil health and optimize nutrients in the soil.
To prevent degradation of the land and ensure continued sequestration potential, the farming practices must be sustainable. This could involve crop rotation, organic farming methods, minimal tilling, and avoidance of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These methods preserve soil health, increase its capacity for carbon storage, and help maintain biodiversity.
Preventing leakage requires farmers to clearly analyze the carbon sequestration potential of all approaches they take.
Proof that the end-use of the product does not cause C02 returning to the atmosphere must be kept in records, be submitted to Hemp Carbon Standard, and made available for output audits. The proof can be an off-take agreement, documentation of the sale or shipment of the product, indicating the intended end-use of the product.
Proper Disposal and End-of-life Management
At the end of their lifecycle, hemp products should be disposed of in a way that doesn’t immediately release the stored carbon back into the atmosphere. For instance, they could be composted, creating organic matter that enhances soil fertility and continues the cycle of carbon storage.
The definition of Additionality is when an individual adopted project activity or suite of activities result in emission reductions or removals greater than what would be achieved under a “business-as-usual” scenario and the project activity would not have occurred in the absence of the incentive provided by the programme.
Hemp Carbon Standard ensures additionality by demonstrating regulatory surplus, identifying barriers that would prevent the implementation of agricultural practices, and establishing that new activities are not common practice in the region of implementation.
Before entering a new market, Hemp Carbon Standard conducts a country-level analysis such that the program is in compliance with the rules and requirements of that country. We make sure that in a new country, the project will not be mandated by any enforced law, statute or other regulatory framework.
Farmers must also pinpoint at least one barrier to the proposed agricultural management practices that will be implemented as a result of the Hemp Carbon Standard program. All of the farmers in the program pass the barrier test. Among the barriers are 1) financial barriers, such that without the generation of certificate sales there would be no outside incentive for farmers to implement practices; and 2) institutional barriers where, due to the lack of awareness or frequency of a practice, a farmer may see new practices as high-risk.
Common practice test
The common practice test means that the adoption of the proposed project activities is not common practice in the region/country of interest. Hemp Carbon Standard uses publicly available census or government data to test whether the adoption of the project activity has no higher than a 20% adoption rate.
We have connected an online learning system to our technical platform to assist farmers in achieving the best outcomes throughout their transition. Also, the service platform offers direct connection between specialist agronomists and the Hemp Carbon Standard farmers to ensure continuous advice on best management practices. We hire and engage partners in the regions we work to make sure we can communicate clearly with our farmers.
Permanence & Durability
Carbon is securely stored in nature-based solutions only when designed with a human-centric approach. We guarantee this secure storage through a legally-binding 10-year contract and assist in creating long-term farm operation plans that economically motivate farmers.
A non-permanence buffer pool serves as a form of insurance for all nature-based programs like Hemp Carbon Standard. All Hemp Carbon Standard farmers are required to contribute 10% of their climate benefit to the Hemp Carbon Standard Non-Permanence Buffer, which remains unsold and guarantees the integrity of our certificates in the face of risks to permanence, overestimation or potential reversals of emission removals. The Buffer does not include risks associated with GHG reductions, but solely CO2-eq removals that risk being released back into the atmosphere.
Hemp Carbon Standard monitors potential reversals on an annual basis. If reversals are identified, the standard is notified.
The Buffer pool consists of verified carbon certificates set aside to cover both the structural quantification risks as well as non-permanence risks. The Buffer pool is held in the Hemp Carbon Standard Registry with the purpose of replenishment in a case of reversal during the project contracting term.
Moreover, as with all modelling, there is a level of uncertainty that needs to be accounted for. Therefore, the buffer mechanism is also used to mitigate against uncertainties and natural disaster risks such as fires and flooding.
Hemp Carbon Standard considers a range of risks and uncertainties associated with the estimations, reversals, and permanence of GHG removals. The determination of the certificate share that will be allocated in the buffer is the same for all projects and depends on contract type. The allocation and whether the buffer is used is determined during the verification period and is checked by the third-party verification body.
All Hemp Carbon Standard certificates are issued, transacted and retired on the Hemp Carbon Standard Registry where certificates are allocated unique serial numbers to ensure there is no double-counting or double-selling.
Our program registry is an internal database for certificates with an online account management platform. The aim of the registry is to ensure complete traceability and validity for all carbon certificates over time.
The registry is responsible for the recording and visualisation of registered projects, validated certificates and ensuring that all is processed in accordance with the Hemp Carbon Standard rules; providing services of holding, transferring, retiring, and cancelling certificates; managing buffer certificates; and maintaining custodial services and records of legal ownership of certificates.
The Registry will be accessible via an online platform where the certificate account balances are viewable with respect to the account holders e.g., farmer and buyer.
Transferable: certificates available for sale / claim by farmers or 3rd party buyers
Retired: Occurs when certificate has been sold.
Cancelled: Replenished and cancelled certificates due to reversals or premature termination from farmers.
The MRV process is essential for guaranteeing the validity of the processes and outcomes of the program.
The process is broken into five key steps:
Quality assurance – Performed by Hemp Carbon Standard Customer Success department in which the intent of the program is confirmed with the project proponent, to ensure understanding of input data and next steps.
Quality control – The process of running our field level, reported real-world data through initial modelling and data pattern analysis paired with satellite imagery and flux tower data to confirm both the practice adoption as well as the emission reductions and removals. Field visits may be conducted during this step as well to corroborate data. This is followed by a desk review, to ensure accuracy of reported and modelled data.
Quantification of net C02 sequestered – Credits are always Issued for Net Carbon Dioxide Removal, which means that the volume removed is determined by subtracting from the C02 sequestration, the related C02 emissions generated from planting and harvesting the crop.
Third party verification – Handled by a trusted & industry leading validation and verification body that verifies the Hemp Carbon Standard C02e quantification methodology at the project level.
Life cycle assessment – Hemp Carbon Standard uses a multi-stage Life Cycle Assessment (LCA):
Goal & Scope
- Aim: Examines emissions and carbon capture of enrolled hemp farms.
- Scope: From seed to disposal of hemp products.
- Planting & Cultivation: Uses seeds, water, machinery, labor.
- Harvesting: Uses machinery, labor, fuel. Produces harvested hemp and machine emissions.
- Processing: Requires energy, water, machinery, labor. Results in processed hemp products and energy emissions.
- End Use: Depends on product type (e.g., building materials, biochar). Uses additional manufacturing processes/materials. Yields final hemp products.
- Disposal: Involves transport, waste processing energy. Leads to decomposition, recycling, or waste.
- Measure greenhouse gas emissions and total carbon captured by hemp.
- Contrast emissions from hemp activities with its carbon capture. Highlight high-emission stages and suggest improvements. Ascertain net carbon balance for credits.
- Uses expert validation for LCA accuracy.
- Documented LCA methodology, data, findings, and advice for both organizational enhancement and public disclosure about Hemp Carbon Standard’s environmental contributions.
Hemp Carbon Standard certificates are a purchasable commodity that represents one tonne of CO2eq removals and reductions, for the use of insetting or offsetting emissions.
Hemp Carbon Standard recognizes that we have a responsibility to ensure that our certificates will count towards a total reduction of emissions and not just a restructuring. When a company wants to buy certificates from the Hemp Carbon Standard program to use for offsetting purposes, it must have a clear pathway towards reduction or elimination of their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
To ensure buyers are compliant, we look for the following criteria. Each company working with us should comply with the below requirements:
Publicly report their emissions covering the 3 scopes
Commit to abating emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and adopting a public and third-party verified emission reduction map
Track annual emission reduction progress including a publicly stated net-zero target year
It is important to stress that we recommend carbon certificates are not a quick fix and should be used in combination with emission reduction strategies. Carbon certificates should be used to compensate for unavoidable emissions.
It must also be emphasised that in the aim of an overall reduction of emissions, the Hemp Carbon Standard certificates are to be seen only as a proof of reduction/removal once and are not in any way eligible for resale or distribution. A buyer’s resale of purchased certificates is strictly forbidden and Hemp Carbon Standard reserves the right to recall any and all certificates sold due to breach, if the buyer attempts to, causes or completes such resale of certificates.
The aim of Hemp Carbon Standard is to have a net-net positive effect on the climate and assist in the transition towards sustainable agriculture. When undergoing the sale of certificates either via Hemp Carbon Standard or an external broker, the program has outlined a buyer condition that requires said buyer to have an implemented an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy which seeks to reduce and eliminate their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. In the screening process, the programme will either independently assess publicly available ESG policy’s or request a copy from the buyer.
A farmer joins the Hemp Carbon Standard program with a farm baseline agreement of 10 years for a group of fields. The contracts are flexible and farmer-oriented, while maintaining environmental integrity. Hemp Carbon Standard verifies the farmer’s reduced emissions from a farmer’s field activities and creates verified, tradable CO2eq-certificates. The farmer is the owner of the certificates and decides what he or she wants to do with them. They can either sell them, keep them or have Hemp Carbon Standard sell the certificates for them.