January 26, 2006 — Today Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to offer farmers and other landowners the opportunity to earn and sell greenhouse gas emissions credits by adopting various conservation practices. These practices limit airborne levels of carbon dioxide and methane that are believed to contribute to global climate change.
“This is a win-win project for both Illinois farmers and the environment, providing a little extra income, while reducing agricultural runoff impacting our lakes and streams and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott.
The new project is called the Illinois Conservation and Climate Initiative (ICCI), and it is being implemented in partnership with the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX®), the Delta Institute, and an Advisory Committee representing Illinois agriculture and conservation groups.
CCX is North America’s only voluntary, legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction and trading system. CCX allows the carbon benefits from these conservation practices to be quantified, credited and sold to its members, including large companies, municipalities, and institutions, that have made a commitment to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and wish to do so by purchasing “carbon offset credits.”
The Delta Institute is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental quality and community economic development. They are responsible for “aggregating” the credits from many different farmers and landowners in order to sell them in large blocks to CCX® members. State agencies, including the Illinois EPA and Illinois DNR, are conducting outreach and education to identify farmers who want to voluntarily participate.
With our government’s retiscence to even acknowledge climate change, voluntary measure like these provide the best means of demonstrating the economic potential of curbing greenhouse gases. Congrats to our friends across the river; let’s hope Illinois’ landowners recognize the opportunities that still confound our leaders in Washington.