Carbon Sequestration and Credit Trading

"Carbon credits trading" has come to Mississippi. A number of programs now exist that facilitate payments to tree farmers and other landowners for storing carbon.  How do you store carbon?  Plant trees!  The programs generally serve as brokers between many small landowners and large emitters of carbon dioxide (such as electric power plants).  Emitters will pay for the carbon storage, which is measured in metric tons and called "credits."

2009 Mississippi Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Julian Watson of Holmes County was one of the first to take advantage of this new market. Find out if carbon credits trading is right for you.

What is carbon sequestration?
Carbon-based gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are the greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming.  A tree, on the other hand, is a giant carbon bank, which sequesters or stores carbon.  It takes carbon out of the atmosphere while it is growing.

Harvested trees will not contribute to an increase in atmospheric carbon if they are used for timber. When trees are harvested for biofuels, the carbon will return to the atmosphere when the fuel is burned, but if new trees grow or are planted to replace the harvested ones, the carbon from biofuels can be considered “recycled” carbon. That is, over time it does not contribute to a net increase in atmospheric carbon.

In a carbon limiting regulatory environment, forest restoration programs that create or add to forests, which otherwise might not grow back as quickly, can receive credits for sequestering carbon.  These credits can then be sold to other entities who need to offset their carbon emissions.

How can I make money from carbon credits?
Although there is not yet a mandatory carbon market in the U.S., many people believe it is only a matter of time.  In Mississippi, some innovative partnerships have already sprung up to create carbon credits through restoration of the Mississippi Valley’s historic bottomland and oak-hickory forests.  Big emitters and innovative enterprises are collaborating to restore forests quickly, providing landowners with opportunities for direct payments or shares of the carbon credits or tree crop sales or some combination of these.