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Clemson Helping Landowners Understand Carbon Credit Market

GEORGETOWN — The carbon credit market is taking shape across the globe and South Carolina forest landowners are learning how they can take advantage of this new revenue stream while helping slow climate change.

Carbon credits can be used to create a new revenue stream for South Carolina forest landowners. Image Credit: Clemson University

A group of forest landowners met at a recent workshop at Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science to hear a South Carolina carbon market success story and learn what they need to do to write their own success stories. Marzieh Motallebi, an assistant professor at the institute who organized the workshop, said the carbon market can be a valuable asset for South Carolina forest landowners.

“We want to show forest landowners how they can benefit by participating in the carbon trading market,” Motallebi said. “We want to help them learn how they can be successful and make money by carbon trading.”

Carbon trading, also known as carbon emissions trading, is a market-based tool to help limit greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists say contribute to global warming and climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, released through such activities as burning fossil fuels and such natural processes as respiration and volcanic eruptions.

Forests can help reduce carbon dioxide levels by providing carbon sequestration, when leaves and roots absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the ground. Carbon dioxide is stored in the leaves, limbs, roots and soil. Trees and plants use carbon dioxide, water and energy during photosynthesis to make glucose, which they use for food, releasing oxygen into the air.

A cap-and-trade system is one approach used to control greenhouse gas emissions. Under this system, a cap is set on emissions. Companies must hold enough emission allowances to cover their emissions. Companies pay penalties if they exceed the cap and do not buy additional allowances. California’s cap-and-trade program has been highlighted as a premiere program and is often referred to when talking about carbon credits.

Carbon offsets generate carbon credits as well. Common carbon offset projects include wind farms, supporting truck stop electrification projects and planting trees or preserving forests.

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