What we do in layman’s terms

March 22, 2024

What we do in layman’s terms

In episode #14 of the Carblecast, Sander Reuderink, CEO at Carble, explains why we do what we do in layman’s terms. He discusses the enormous challenge of deforestation for coffee and cocoa supply chains and tells how Carble’s approach intends to mitigate land-use change drastically. Watch the episode or read the blog.

“If I’m honest, I still don’t understand what you’re talking about”

“If I’m honest, I still don’t understand what you’re talking about,” said Sander’s father while listening to the Carblecast. We get it. Jargon creates a gap for laypeople to understand why we do what we do, and at the same time creates confusion about how we do it. That's why we've recorded episode #14, in which Sander explains everything in layman’s terms.

A brief history of carbon

To develop an understanding of what we do, we need to go back 4.5 billion years to the birth of our Earth. There was no oxygen to be found in the atmosphere, only substances like carbon dioxide, methane, and sulfuric acid. But that changed with the arrival of plants. Plants harnessed the power of the sun to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They stored the carbon, so the C atom, to create more biomass. In return, they released oxygen back into the atmosphere.

The increase in atmospheric oxygen allowed for animals to evolve, including us humans. Since we inhale oxygen, the oxygen that we inhale reacts with carbon from our food, releasing the energy that was once captured from the sunlight. All of this was in a state of equilibrium

for many millions of years until humans harnessed the power of fire. We burned wood to clear lands and of course to use wood as a fuel for cooking and warming our homes.

This released a lot of carbon back into the atmosphere and accelerated hugely when we discovered that we could dig up all this carbon that was stored deep underground, where it had formed oils and coals that we could use as fossil fuels to burn at even much higher rates. In episode #14, like in all Carblecasts, we shift our focus on deforestation: an enormous climate challenge.

How does deforestation impact the earth?

Deforestation results in five gigatons of carbon emissions every year. That's around 14% of our global carbon emissions: five times as much as the global aviation industry. And if deforestation were a country, it would rank third in terms of emissions only behind China and the United States. However, there is an alternative, which is regenerative agriculture: giving as much back to the planet as we extract from it.

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture uses the natural forest canopy and excludes chemical inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. It also brings other benefits to the table, like coffee quality and biodiversity: hosting the same species richness as you would encounter within a natural forest. And it also has a huge benefit in carbon storage as well. For instance, coffee agroforestry in its most extensive forms, can store the same amount of carbon as is stored in a natural forest.

Regenerative agriculture is a brilliant solution to address climate challenges in commodity sectors, but there is also a downside: The yields are lower. Meaning, that the amount of kilograms of coffee and cocoa that farmers can harvest from farms is lower than we would see with industrialized production. This low yield results in farmers not earning enough to provide a decent standard of living income in almost all producing countries.

So how do we intend to solve this problem? That’s what we explain in the final words of this article.

What do we do to help companies and farmers?

First of all, we help companies measure their current historic emissions from deforestation and tree cover loss. We use satellite imagery for that, which allows us to look back 20 years in time. Even if we only received the farm locations (GPS polygons) today, we can still see what happened 20 years ago because satellite imagery is always stored and available. 

Then secondly, we help companies model opportunities for reducing emissions in the future, as well as identifying where the risks are of emissions in our supply chains. For example, are there farms in my supply chain that still have a lot of tree cover, but that are located in areas with very high tree cover loss rates? Or can we calculate that it's economically not feasible for farmers to operate these farms with high tree cover currently without any cash incentives to protect these tree covers?

And then finally, we help companies mitigate emissions or prevent emissions from tree cover loss by offering farmers cash payments for not cutting down trees. And all at the same time, we provide the continuous monitoring that companies need for compliance with the European European Union's Deforestation Regulation.

Do you have questions after watching the episode, or reading through the blog? Please fill out the form, and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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