Klim Glossary

To the German Glossary

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Advantages of regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture has many positive aspects. Two main strengths are reduced tillage and year-round ground cover, which preserves soil integrity and prevents erosion. In addition, the humus layer is built up, which on the one hand actively removes CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil, and at the same time delivers nutrients to the plants and protects the soil from drought. The integration of animals also makes regenerative agriculture interesting for almost every farmer who wants to make a positive contribution to the climate.

Agroforestry systems

A modern type of land use, where perennial woody plants are combined with arable crops and even animal husbandry in one area. Care is taken to ensure that there are ecological and economic benefits between the various components. Through agroforestry systems, i. e. soil fertility and biodiversity can get increased.

Article 6

This refers to Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement. Among other things, this allows the signatory states to transfer emission reductions that can be counted towards national climate protection targets. An agreement was not reached until 6 years later, at the COP26 World Climate Summit.

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Biocapacity

Biocapacity refers to the ability of ecosystems to produce biologically beneficial material and to absorb waste materials produced by humans. An "ecological deficit" happens, when the ecological footprint of a population exceeds its biocapacity and as a result of these calculations, an ecological reserve can be identified. The ecological deficit in Germany corresponds to a factor of 2.33. If the entire world population lived as the Germans do, we would need 2.33 Earths to maintain ecological balance. Biocapacity is usually expressed in global hectares (gha).

Biochar

Biochar is a material produced by thermotechnical decomposition. It is used in agriculture to bring nutrients into the soil, store CO2 and increase the water holding capacity.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity corresponds to the biological diversity of different species, genes and ecosystems. Although biodiversity is highly endangered due to human interventions in nature, it can also be regenerated through promoting measures such as regenerative agriculture.

Biomass

Biomass is the total amount of organic substances that can store CO2 and thus act as a carbon sink. It mainly consists of plants, which take up CO2 through photosynthesis and accumulate part of it within the soil in the form of humus.

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CO2

CO2 is the chemical formula for the molecule carbon dioxide, which consists of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally and in large quantities in the Earth's atmosphere, and is one of the greenhouse gases, therefore playing a crucial role in our climate. More about this can be found under the term greenhouse effect.

CO2 Budget

The term CO2 budget or carbon budget refers to the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that can be emitted in order to stay within a threshold of global warming (such as limiting the rise in global surface temperatures to 1.5°C as set out by the Paris Agreement).

Carbon Disclosure Project

The Carbon Disclosure Project is an independent and non-commercial organization founded in 2020. It provides the largest database of information on companies' greenhouse gas emissions and their climate strategies. It makes this information available transparently and avilable to all. The project was initiated by academics in the fields of business and sustainability. CDP asks companies, cities and countries to provide data on their respective environmental impact, which is provided voluntarily if the company wishes to participate in the project. The data includes greenhouse gas emissions and the use of resources, and is critically examined before points are being made on how the company can act more sustainably. The aims of the project are to provide information for investors, companies and governments to help them make investment decisions, and to motivate companies to reduce their impact on the climate.

Carbon credits

Carbon credits are permits, which allow the holder of the permit to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent. These permits can be traded on carbon markets and their key goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More information can be found under the terms ‘carbon trading’, ‘carbon market’ and ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’.

Carbon cycle

There is a continuous, natural exchange of carbon between the atmosphere, water bodies, living organisms, rocks and soil. However, anthropogenic activities such as burning fossil fuels, forest clearing, and intensive land cultivation negatively impact this cycle by releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere. Regenerative agriculture can counteract this negative effect by storing more carbon in the form of humus in the soil.

Carbon dioxide equivalent

Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure used to compare the different greenhouse gas emissions based on their global warming potential (i.e., the amount of time of a greenhouse gas remains active in the atmosphere, calculated over a period of 100 years). The global warming potential (GWP) for methane for instance is 21, meaning that one million metric tons of methane emissions is equivalent to 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Carbon footprint

The carbon footprint provides a measuring unit of the amount of CO2 emissions that a person, company or organization produces in a given period of time. The carbon footprint has gained significant importance in recent years as a way to measure the climate impact of activities such as consumption patterns or the manufacturing of products and services.

Carbon market

The carbon market refers to the market on which carbon credits/carbon certificates can be purchased and sold, also called carbon trading. The key aim of the carbon market is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additional information can be found under carbon trading.

Carbon markets

Carbon markets are a market-based instrument for reducing CO2 emissions. Governments determine the amount of CO2 that different groups are allowed to emit.

Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting consists of any activity or processes that seek to compensate for the emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases, by participating in programs that reduce emissions elsewhere (e.g., through regenerative agriculture).

Carbon standards

A variety of carbon standards exist including the Gold Standard, Verra Standard & TÜV Standard, which set guidelines and principles for a variety of carbon offsetting projects and provide a transparent and credible certification for them. Find out more under carbon offsetting.

Carbon storage

Carbon storage captures CO2 over the long term and thus reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The largest natural CO2 reservoirs are oceans, forests and soils, especially peatlands and permafrost, but also cropland and pastures.

Carbon tax

A carbon tax is a fee imposed on polluters such as companies and/or individuals that burn carbon-based fuels, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The emitters usually pay for each ton of greenhouse gases they emit.

Carbon trading

Carbon trading is a market-based system and consists of buying and selling emission permits, with the permit holder being allowed to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide.

Catch crop

A catch crop is a fast-growing plant that is grown between two main crops. The catch crop is mostly used as a forage crop or is incorporated into the soil as green manure. Growing catch crops is not only good for the number of microorganisms in the soil, it also loosens crop rotation and protects the soil from erosion.

Climate change

Climate change refers to the long-term changes in temperature and weather patterns. Although climatic changes can result from natural factors such as volcanic eruptions, changes in our solar activity, orbital effects and plate tectonics, these usually happen on a minimal scale. Broad consensus exists however, that the significant increase in climatic changes since 1850 is a direct result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. These lead to the significant emission of greenhouse gases and thus contribute to climate change.

Climate change mitigation

Climate change mitigation refers to the activities and processes to reduce emissions in order to address the issue of climate change at its source, being the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate neutrality

Climate neutrality refers to a state where the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is equal or lower than the amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere. See also: net-zero.

Climate positive

Being climate positive refers to the process of removing and/or saving more greenhouse gas emissions than are being emitted into the atmosphere. Climate positivity is therefore often considered to be the next step past climate neutrality.

Climate resilience

Climate resilience stands for the ability to withstand changes in the climate. In order to achieve this, early and adequate adaptation to the risks and consequences of climate change are needed, in order to mitigate or avoid its negative impacts.

Climate targets

Climate targets encompass all the targets and goals that a company and/or government sets itself, in order to promote climate mitigation. Companies and governments can reach those climate targets by either reducing or offsetting their emissions. Find out more under the term carbon offsetting.

Compost

Compost is dead organic material that has gone through the rotting process. The composting of the material creates a high-quality fertiliser, which should, however, be matured before being applied to the field. The compost then promotes soil life after application and supplies nutrients into the soil.

Compost tea

Compost tea effectively increases the lifespan of soil. To achieve this, a relatively small amount of compost and the microorganisms it contains are mixed into warm molasses or water. The microorganisms contained in the compost then multiply strongly in this tea. When the compost tea is ready, it is either applied directly or if the farmer wishes, enriched with nutrients.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short, is the social responsibility of companies as part of promoting sustainable business. This includes social, ecological and economic aspects. The EU Commission first defined CSR in 2001 as a concept that serves as a basis for companies to integrate social and environmental concerns into their business activities and interactions with stakeholders on a voluntary basis. According to the Commission, CSR goes "over and above [...] legal obligations" and thus cannot be imposed by law. Key aspects such as human rights, labour and employment practices, environmental issues and the fight against bribery and corruption must be included as a minimum.

Cover crop

In agriculture, a cover crop or main crop is a type of crop (i.e. winter cereals), under whose protection a later developing second crop (i.e. grass species) is sown as undersow. After the cover crop has been harvested, a well-developed vegetation cover is preserved, which makes the soil more stable, more fertile and at the same time less susceptible to compaction, erosion and weed growth.

Crop rotation

Crop rotation refers to the chronological sequence of the cultivated crops. A diverse crop rotation can increase soil fertility, soil health, yield and biodiversity.

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Direct emissions

Direct emissions refer to all emissions which stem from an owned or controlled source by a company. An example of direct emissions are the factory fumes resulting from the manufacturing process of a product. For additional information see term Scope 1 emissions.

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ESG-Reporting

ESG reporting consists of companies or organizations publishing their impacts in environmental, social and governance areas. The transparent nature of ESG reporting is particularly relevant for investors in understanding the targets of a company and its associated investment risks and opportunities.

Ecosystem

An ecosystem is a complex an interconnected system, which is comprised of a community of living organisms, that live and interact with each other and their physical environment.

Emission allowance

An emission allowance is required for every ton of CO2 emitted. These authorizations can be acquired at auctions organized by the state. Anyone who emits without these authorizations can expect penalties. Those who emit less have to spend less on these permissions. This makes protecting the climate by reducing CO2 emissions very attractive.

Environmental conservation

Environmental conservation refers to the restoration, protection, preservation and sustainable management of the natural environment and its ecosystems.

Environmental regulations

Environmental regulations are rules and actions enforced by a government in the attempt of protecting the environment through measures such as pollution control and the sustainable management of natural resources.

Extensive management concept

Under the extensive management concept, the capital and labor input is relatively low in ocmparison to a certain area. Fewer inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and use of machines are needed. Thus an extensive management concept is generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than an intensive management concept.

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Fertilizers

Fertilizers are natural and synthetic substances that are used in agriculture to increase plant growth. Renewable cultivation methods can reduce their use, which protects the environment and climate and also reduces costs for the farmers.

Flower strips

Flower strips are cultivated areas on the edges of fields. They improve biodiversity and, in the case of local seeds, create new habitats for species such as the wild bee.

Forestry

Forestry is the science and the craft of managing, planting, operating, maintaining and rehabilitating forests and the associated resources for the benefit of people and the environment. Most of the forests are managed with the focus on economic use to obtain wood. Forestry makes an active contribution to maintaining healthy forests.

Fossil fuels

Fossil fuels originate from the decomposition of plants and animals and can be used as a source of energy. Fossil fuels contain hydrogen and carbon, which is released into the atmosphere when burned. Some examples include coal, oil and natural gas.

Fungicides

Fungicides are chemical or biological agents that kill or inhibit the growth of fungi and spores. They are mainly used in agriculture.

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Grain legumes

Grain legumes refer to the legumes that can be used as fodder. Some examples are i. e.g. peas, soybeans, field beans or lupine. Grain legumes are primarily characterized by their particularly high protein content. In addition to the high protein content, they also fix nitrogen in the soil. This makes them ideal plants for a balanced crop rotation.

Grassland

Grassland is a cultural landscape that is used by farmers as pasture, alpine pasture or meadow. The plants that grow on grassland are mainly grasses. These grasses serve as high-quality animal feed and are grown permanently. Grassland also protects the soil against flooding and soil erosion as well as increases the humus content.

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases refer to any gases with the characteristic to absorb the infrared radiation stemming from the Earth’s surface, thus contributing to the greenhouse effect. The key greenhouse gases are: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons. Find out more under Greenhouse Effect.

Greenhouse effect

The Greenhouse effect refers to the natural process by which gases such as carbon dioxide and methane trap the heat emitted from the Sun in the troposphere (lower atmosphere) and warm the Earth.

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Indirect emissions

Indirect emissions refer to all the emissions that are a consequence of a company’s activities but are owned or controlled by another entity. An example of indirect emissions includes business travel by plane, where the airline holds the direct emissions.

Integration of animals

Livestock farming that includes holistic pasture management plays a central role in regenerative agriculture. A limited area is grazed with a high population for a short time, followed by a long period of rest for the pasture to regenerate. This strategy helps improve the grassland and protect the climate by increasing soil fertility, building up humus and reducing soil evaporation.

Intergenerational equity

This concept describes the intention to operate sustainably and responsibly so that future generations will also have an environment worth living in with sufficient resources. With regard to agriculture, it is important to protect the ecological capital, especially the soil, in order to ensure consistent yield opportunities.

International initiatives

Worldwide, there are already numerous organisations such as Regeneration International, Kiss the Ground, Rodale Institute, Soil Capital, RegenAG, Grounded Growth, Terra Genesis International and Soil Carbon Initiative that promote regenerative agriculture. In Germany, the practice of regenerative agriculture is still limited, but is gaining more and more awareness through emerging initiatives such as Klim.

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Joint Implementation

The term ‘joint implementation’ is one of the three flexibility mechanisms set out in the Kyoto Protocol, with the goal to help countries achieve their emission reduction targets. According to the UNFCCC, join implementation ‘allows a country with an emission reduction or limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (called Annex B Party) to earn emission reduction units (ERUs) from an emission-reduction or emission removal project in another Annex B Party’.

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Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that was adopted by 192 parties on the 11th of December 1997 with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling global warming.

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Legumes

Legumes are numerous types of clover-like plants such as lentils, beans and peas that are primarily used as animal feed and green manure to increase the availability of nitrogen in the soil.

Life cycle assessment

The life cycle assessment is a systematic and standardized framework to assess the environmental impacts of a product at all stages of its lifecycle.

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Methane

Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas. Although it is only found in small quantities in the atmosphere, it remains a powerful greenhouse gas and is harmful for both humans and the environment.

Microorganisms

Microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists) occur naturally in the soil. They are extremely useful in the decomposition of organic material and are significantly involved in the process of humus formation and should therefore be encouraged.

Monoculture/ Mixed cultivation

In monocultures, the same type of plant is grown in the same area for several years. This can make management easier, but it can also reduce the health of plants and soils and reduce biodiversity. If, on the other hand, several types of crops are cultivated together, one speaks of a mixed culture. Through the combination, the different plant species benefit from each other, the nutrient balance in the soil is improved, the resistance of the culture is increased and biodiversity is promoted.

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Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that is mainly emitted in agricultural processes (e.g., through the use of fertilisers) & livestock farming, waste management, energy use and combustion processes. Nitrous oxide is 300 times more harmful to the environment and the climate than CO2.

Nutrient density

Nutrient density refers to the content of nutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals) in foods in relation to their energy content. Soil health is improved through regenerative soil management, which in return can increase the nutrient density in plants.

Nutritional balance

Soil is a dynamic body, which needs a constant supply and extraction of nutrients. A balanced nutrient balance is therefore the core element of agricultural land. This goal can be promoted through regenerative soil management techniques. Conventional agriculture, in contrast to regenerative agriculture, supplies most of its nutrients through fertilization.

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Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on tackling climate change, which was adopted by 196 countries on the 12th of December 2015. Its key aims are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial values and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Perennial field fodder

Perennial field fodder is an important source of basic fodder production in livestock farming. It enables the linking of crop production and livestock farming and thus represents a central role in the circular economy. Yields and quality parameters, such as nutrient and energy content, have an influence on animal performance. In organic arable farming, the cultivation of perennial forage is often the basis for crop rotation. Perennial forage promotes humus formation in the soil. The year-round soil cover ensures an erosion-resistant soil with a high elasticity of use. In addition, perennial field forage builds up diverse ecosystem services, such as increasing and promoting the biodiversity of pollinating insects and wild plants.

Permanent culture

In agriculture, permanent cultures are plant stocks that are used over several years. This includes orchards and vineyards, perennial berry plants or asparagus fields. The cultivation of permanent crops can, for example, lead to reduced tillage practices and thus give the soil more time for self-regulation.

Pesticides

Pesticides are crop protection products that are used to control weeds, insects and other diseases in cropland. Their use can be reduced through regenerative practices, which can decrease the pollution of the environment, animals and food from pesticides.

Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis describes the process in plants for the conversion of water and CO2 into glucose and oxygen under the influence of solar radiation. While doing so, they generate energy and store carbon.

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REDD+

REDD+ is a framework created by the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) to provide guidance on activities in the forest sector (e.g., reducing the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), as well as promoting the sustainable management and conservation of forests stocks in developing countries. The commitment to implementing REDD+ activities is voluntary.

Regenerate

To regenerate means to develop, renew or restore something that has been damaged or lost. In the context of sustainability for instance, regeneration can refer to the ability of an ecosystem to replenish and recover from anthropogenic damage such as pollution or deforestation.

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming practices that promote and enhance biodiversity, improve soil fertility and water cycles, sequester carbon and increase nutrient availability in the soil. It aims to accumulate CO₂ as carbon in the soil and in biomass near the soil. Thus, it reduces the concentration of CO₂ in the atmosphere in the long term. At the same time, regenerative practices generate higher yields and increase the resilience of agriculture to climate change. Regenerative agriculture is based on 5 basic principles: 1. permanent soil cover 2. permanent presence of living roots 3. promotion of biodiversity 4. reduced tillage 5. integration of livestock farmingDie regenerative Landwirtschaft beruft sich auf 5 Grundprinzipien: 1. Dauerhafte Bodenbedeckung 2. Dauerhaftes Vorhandensein von lebenden Wurzeln 3. Förderung der Biodiversität 4. Reduzierte Bodenbearbeitung 5. Integrierung von Tierhaltung

Regenerative methods

Regenerative methods are ways of storing CO2 in the soil. There are many different methods of doing this such as catch crops, undersown crops, the integration of animals, hedges and many more.

Renewable energies

Renewable energy refers to an energy source that is not depleted when used and is naturally replenished. Examples of renewable energies include solar, wind, geothermal heat, wave & tidal energies.

Representative Concentration Pathways

The Representative Concentration Pathways (4 scenarios in total) seek to predict how the concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases will progress in the future, to subsequently gain a better understanding of how the climate itself may change in the future. The four possible pathways starting from the lowest are: • RCP 2.6: Stringent mitigation scenario & very low future emissions • RCP 4.5: Intermediate mitigation scenario & low to moderate future emissions • RCP 6.0: Intermediate mitigation scenario & moderate to high future emissions • RCP 8.5: Business as usual scenario & very high future emissions - RCP 8.5: Business-as-usual-Szenario und sehr hohe künftige Emissionen Diese Entwicklungspfade dienen dazu, besser zu verstehen, wie sich das Klima unter den verschiedenen Emissionsszenarien in der Zukunft verändern könnte.

Rotation pasture management

With rotation pasture management, a pasture is divided into small plots that are only grazed for a short amount of time with a high number of animals. This is followed by a long period of rest for the pasture to regenerate. This management contributes to improving the soil and protecting the climate by building up humus and reducing soil evaporation.

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SPAC (Soil Plant Atmosphere Continuum)

The so-called SPAC (eng. “Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum”) describes the path of water out of the soil, through the plant and into the atmosphere. The complex physical processes expand agricultural understanding on topics such as surface evaporation, leaf size (LAI leaf area index), irrigation up to soil composition, etc.

Scope 1 emissions

Scope 1 emissions refer to all the direct emissions resulting from a company’s activities and/or under their control.

Scope 2 emissions

Scope 2 emissions refer to all the indirect emissions owned by a company and resulting from their energy consumption, for instance from the electricity that is purchased and used by the company.

Scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 emissions refer to all other un-owned indirect emissions resulting from a company’s activities such as business travel, waste and water usage. These types of emissions oftentimes account for the highest share in the company’s carbon footprint.

Seasons

An important element of regenerative agriculture is to cover the ground at any time of the year. For this purpose, undersown crops and catch crops are grown, which protect the soil and provide it with nutrients all year round. This leads to improved soil health and increased soil life, as a result of which the formation of permanent humus increases.

Self-planted fallow greening

A self-planted fallow greening is a fallow agricultural area on which spontaneous vegetation development is permitted. Here, habitats for animals are created and humus is built up in the soil.

Self-regulation

Self-regulation is the ability of ecosystems and their populations to recover from disturbances and to rebalance themselves.

Social sustainability

Several definitions and approaches to social sustainability exist, however generally speaking, social sustainability seeks to promote the well-being of humans for current and future generations, through tackling issues related social equity, intergenerational equity, human rights, social justice, labour rights and so on.

Soil erosion

Soil erosion is understood as the erosion of the earth's surface by wind, rain, snow and landslides, whereby valuable, fertile soil is lost and CO2 is released from it. Measures such as permanent greening of fields, gentle tillage, hedges and agroforestry can counteract this.

Soil health

Soil health describes the condition and quality of the soil. Healthy soil is characterized by numerous soil organisms with intact soil functions such as high fertility, water storage, pollutant filtering and carbon fixation in the form of humus (see H). A healthy soil is a crucial precondition for sustainable food production.

Species diversity

Species diversity refers to the number of different types of living organisms present in a habitat. It is estimated that the total number of species living on Earth is approximately 13.5 million. The global species population is currently undergoing a sharp decline due to human influences such as the destruction of nature, environmental pollution and climate change.

Stubble field

A stubble field is a field on which the lower parts of the plant remain rooted. The remains of vegetation serve as fertilizer for the subsequent crops and as feed for various small animals.

Sustainability

Sustainability describes a system that is economically, ecologically and socially stable and viable for the future. Regenerative agriculture enhances all three sub-aspects of sustainability by promoting farmer prosperity, environmental protection, climate mitigation, and food security.

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Targeted fallow greening

The term fallow refers to a temporary, unused agricultural area. If this area is targeted and planted with i. e. wild herbs and other suitable plants it then can be referred to as targeted fallow greening. Such areas are known for their increase in biodiversity and an improvement in the soil structure.

Tillage

Tillage refers to the mechanical interventions in the soil. These are needed to increase plant growth due to changed soil conditions. However, tillage can also contribute to soil erosion, which should be avoided.

Tipping points

Within climate science, tipping points refer to the critical threshold where the smallest change could generate significant and irreversible change or damage in the whole climate system.

Tree Planting

Tree Planting is a mechanism to offset carbon emissions, by which trees absorb carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis, therefore reducing the emissions in the atmosphere. Businesses and individuals can offset their carbon footprint by investing in Tree Planting projects. Find out more under carbon offsetting.

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Undersown crops

Clover-like forage plants and grasses are often referred to as undersown crops. These are then sown under the main fruit i.e. grain. After the main crop has been harvested, the undersown crops are allowed to continue growing. Thus, two crops are grown at the same time. Not only do such practices have economic advantages, but they also has positive aspects for the soil, as it is covered thanks to the undersowing.

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Voluntary Carbon Market

If certain emission-intensive activities cannot be reduced, voluntary offsetting of greenhouse gases offers the possibility to compensate for those unavoidable emissions by purchasing certificates. The voluntary carbon market is the market in which institutions and companies can voluntarily purchase those certificates. Although it is a voluntary market, there are binding targets such as those set out by the Kyoto Protocol that need to be complied with.

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