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St1 pilots sustainable carbon sequestrating through afforestation in Morocco

St1 has signed an agreement with the Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique in Morocco and its affiliated fertiliser company, OCP, for the implementation of an afforestation pilot. Over a period of three years, the project will examine the carbon sequestration by trees under various controlled conditions in Morocco. The goal of the pilot is to find the optimal solution for the use of land improvement and irrigation systems in cost-effective forest growth and carbon sequestrating. The Natural Resource Institute Finland LUKE will serve as the forest expert in the project. The pilot is also the first step towards creating a validated and approved tool for combating climate change through carbon sinks created via afforestation.  

A total of 16,000 seedlings acquired from Morocco will be planted in a four-hectare research area in Rhamna Ben Guerir. Planting will begin in January and the project will involve testing seven tree species, including carob, eucalyptus and acacia. Various types of soil improvement, such as water retention improvements and fertilisation, will be performed to provide a viable substrate in the currently dry soil. In addition, the project will involve studying the role of irrigation and the optimisation of water consumption by using a sub-surface drip irrigation system.

The first results of the three-year pilot will be obtained in a year's time. The university will implement a practical field test to study and measure the trees’ growth both above and below ground. As a partner, LUKE, the Natural Resource Institute Finland, will contribute technical and practical forest know-how and expertise to the project, by directing and monitoring the field test. In addition, the project will involve a local farmer, on whose land different growing methods will be tested.

An internationally accepted method of carbon measurement is an absolute prerequisite, if carbon sinks created through afforestation are to become an official and commercial method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. During the summer, the University of Helsinki began a measurement conceptualisation project with the aim of creating an internationally accepted comprehensive measurement method for carbon-sequestrating projects, which would enable the carbon trading of the future.

The carbon sequestration from the atmosphere is essential

Climate change is leading to rapid and dramatic changes in our planet's ecosystem. Numerous forecasts indicate that the objective of the Paris Climate Agreement – to limit global warming to less than 2°C – will not be achieved by the current methods. Emissions will be further increased by the rapid growth of populations, economies and energy demand in emerging countries. In addition, some 100 billion tonnes of excessive carbon are already in the atmosphere. A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms the impossibility of achieving the objective by current means, and highlights that the range of methods require carbon sinks, such as new forests. Viable land areas could be increased through the large-scale afforestation of arid regions. Afforestation projects combined with agriculture would help the populations of regions affected by drought and desertification, thereby reducing migratory pressures.

Only the private sector has sufficient financial resources for large-scale global afforestation. However, the EU’s current climate policy does not allow companies to invest in growing carbon sinks, since the climate benefit achieved through such means cannot be counted with regard to the emissions trading and the non-emissions trading sector, although their importance is recognised in principle. Measurable, auditable and transparent carbon sequestering through afforestation should be added to the means of combating climate change as soon as possible.

Link to press release by Helsinki University here

Watch a video about carbon farming here

For more information, please contact:
Heidi Laurila, Project Manager
+358 400 653 139, heidi.laurila@st1.fi

St1 Nordic Oy is a Nordic energy group whose vision is to be the leading producer and seller of CO2-aware energy. The Group researches and develops economically viable, environmentally sustainable energy solutions. St1 focuses on fuels marketing activities, oil refining and renewable energy solutions such as waste-based advanced ethanol fuels and industrial wind power. The Group has 1400 St1 and Shell branded retail stations in Finland, Sweden and Norway. Headquartered in Helsinki, St1 employs currently more than 750 people. www.st1.eu

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