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Additionality Requirement for Carbon Credits

aerial photograph of green forest land

Landowners and farmers can make money from their land in the form of carbon credits. Carbon credits are measurable, verifiable emission reductions from projects that reduce, remove or avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Landowners can receive carbon credits relative to the amount of carbon stored on their land and therefore removed from our atmosphere.

In order to generate a carbon credit, a producer needs to provide evidence that one metric ton of CO2 (or its equivalent in greenhouse gases) has been sequestered in the soil as a result of the farmer's efforts. While this may seem straightforward, there is often an additional requirement known as "additionality" that poses a greater challenge for many farmers who are already implementing conservation practices.

What is Additionality?

According to Climate Change Guide, GHG reductions are additional if they would not have occurred in the absence of a market for offset credits. If the reductions would have happened anyway – i.e., without any prospect for project owners to sell carbon offset credits – then they are not additional.

Why is Additionality Important?

The concept of additionality is crucial in the context of carbon credits. Buyers of carbon credits are not willing to pay for someone to sequester carbon if they would have done it regardless. Put simply, a carbon project is considered additional if the emissions reductions or removals would not have taken place without the revenue generated from the sale of carbon credits. To be effective, carbon credits must represent a genuine reduction or avoidance of emissions. For example, in the field of reforestation and afforestation, it is illogical to compensate someone for planting trees if they had already planned to do so, as this would not result in any net decrease in CO2 emissions.

Many farmers have pointed out that this system creates an ironic situation where farmers who have been farming with sustainable practices for years are excluded from the financial benefits of carbon farming. If you are interested in earning carbon credits from your farmland through regenerative agriculture or elsewhere, the sooner you consider carbon credit opportunities for your land, the better!

How is Additionality Measured?

Measuring additionality is challenging, and it arises due to the multiple criteria involved and the fact that critical criteria (like additionality) are a matter of confidence rather than absolute truth. Assessing additionality typically involves using various methods, driven by specific protocols and registries. Internationally recognized carbon registries which issue project standards and protocols for carbon credit issuance, such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Gold Standard (GS), American Carbon Registry (ACR), and United Nations (UN) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), provide guidelines for assessing additionality.

How to Sell Carbon Credits on LandGate

Investors want to buy the carbon credits generated from your land – and LandGate makes the entire process fast and easy. We've calculated the carbon credits of every parcel in the U.S., factoring in planned regenerative agriculture practices on each one. You can view this information when you get your free Property Report and list your carbon credits on LandGate's Marketplace for free.


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