Since 2007, a regulation has been in place in Alberta that requires every large-scale producer of greenhouse gas (GHG) (any operation that produces more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year) to reduce their emissions intensity by 12 per cent. In order to comply with this regulation, GHG producers have the choice to either cut their actual output of emissions, pay a $15/tonne of CO2e emitted into an environmental R&D technology fund, or purchase carbon credits to offset their own carbon outputs.
A carbon credit represents a single tonne of GHG reduced from the atmosphere. Since agricultural and forest-covered lands sponge up greenhouse gases, farmers sit on a rich source of sellable carbon credits. Because large-scale GHG emitters require such large numbers of offset carbon credits, they typically rely on a middleman or aggregator to collects the carbon credits from multiple farmers and then sells them to the emitter.
An in-depth overview of the system is available through Agriculture and Rural Development Alberta at www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/ deptdocs. nsf/all/cl11179. TVEC’s website at www.terraemissions.com.