Sofyan Martin
Research & Innovation Project Manager
Published on December 07, 2020

Reading time : 3 min

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Smart Carbon Soils: preserving and enhancing your soil carbon capital

The soil and land under the control of organisations and companies represents a great potential for social and climate innovation. In view of this vital importance and of the land assets to be exploited sustainably, Egis has gathered its experts to develop the "Smart Carbon Soils" solution aligned with the 1.5 degree trajectory of the Paris Agreements and the Net Zero Initiative reference framework.

Smart Carbon Soils Egis Aeria

- Crédits : Aeria / Egis

What is smart carbon soils?

Smart Carbon Soils is an innovative approach and service offering that contributes to the operational translation of the CSR and climate commitments of organisations, by optimising the carbon sequestration potential of their land holdings with social and environmental co-benefits.

Smart Carbon Soils offers to assess:

    - the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of an activity through the increase of carbon sinks
    - the social value of the carbon sink project
    - Ecosystem services provided by land

  • Customised recommendations for innovative nature-based solutions integrating climate change
  • Constitution of a carbon safe as accumulated carbon capital to be valued
  • Advice on external funding opportunities related to this project

The soil that we consider is that thin layer of 10 to 100 cm under our feet that represents 7.5% of the earth's surface. The soil is alive. In good health, it has a high organic matter content (2.5 to 3 times the amount of carbon sequestered in the aerial part of plants), it sequesters carbon and thus helps fight against climate change.

According to the latest IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports, soil contributes to limiting GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by up to 30% of anthropogenic activities. In its most optimistic scenario, the IPCC considers that in order to reach the maximum threshold of 2°C of global warming, it is necessary on the one hand to reduce our emissions, but also and necessarily to preserve and increase carbon sequestration in soils.

Despite this, nearly 20 to 25% of the world's soils are affected by degradation and an additional 5 to 10 million hectares - the size of Austria - are degrading every year. Soils, however, perform vital functions:

Benefits at every level

  • A profitable investment ranging from €0 to €50 per tonne CO2e/year, the potential for additional sequestration can range from 200kg to several tonnes CO2e/ha/year, while the social cost of climate inaction is estimated at $400/ tonne CO2 emitted, according to the scientific journal Nature.
  • Nature-based solutions and co-benefits:

       - Against erosion and rising water levels, heat islands, pollution

       - For the improvement of air quality, water quality, landscapes (well-being)

       - For territorial cohesion, social anchoring, and bio-economic diversification


An ongoing pilot project: Abidjan Airport (Côte d'Ivoire)

- Valuable surface area: 1600 ha, with a possible additional sequestration of 4/1000/year, i.e. about 500 t CO2/year, (i.e. about 10% of what is currently compensated outside the Côte d'Ivoire)

- Solutions considered: lagoon restoration, greening of spaces and buildings, soil dewatering, biochar - recovery of green waste (compost) and partnerships with market gardening farms

- Customer challenges and expectations: to be innovative in its local compensation approach, with particular expectations on social acceptability (stronger than for carbon)

Thanks to this first experience, we will soon deploy two pilot projects in France (Linear Transport Infrastructure, a parapublic company).

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