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Insetting: reducing emissions that other approaches cannot reach


There’s an emerging new approach in town, Insetting, being used by businesses to bolster their commodity supply chains, develop better relationships with smallholder farmers and reduce ‘difficult to reach’ Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions inextricably linked to their operations, in far-flung parts of the world. An example is shade tree planting over coffee crops, which can improve the growth environment , buffer against weather shocks and sequester carbon at the same time.

Nespresso and Source Climate Change Coffee are using the approach, and it is being explored by Ben and Jerrys, Body Shop and Arvid Nordquist. My recent MSc dissertation research found that up to 20 businesses are using Insetting currently.

Consensus on a definition for Insetting is yet to be reached, but for practical purposes it can be thought of as working in partnership to reduce emissions in the supply chain or beyond the factory gate – the ‘sphere of interest’ outside immediate operations, so-called ‘Scope III’ emissions. In principle, this can apply to any technology or land use change activity.

One application where Insetting is attracting particular interest is for protecting commodities, particularly Arabica coffee, cocoa and spices, which often grow only at very specific temperatures and rainfall patterns. Incentives such as payments and direct support for infrastructure such as schools and health centres, are being used to encourage farmers and communities to introduce agroforestry and conservation farming techniques. Sometimes projects are certified under a carbon standard, credits are generated by the activities and these are used to support a carbon neutral claim. Regardless of this transaction taking place, relationships are strengthened, crops are better protected against the worst effects of climate change and GHGs are mitigated.

The Plan Vivo Foundation recently hosted an event on Insetting in London, attended by forty businesses, developers and experts. “Insetting: A User Guide” was launched in anticipation of more detail on a microsite within the Plan Vivo site. We are confident that Insetting has a bright future, and will become a popular approach to reduce emissions that other approaches cannot reach.

Please get in touch if you would like a copy of the Insetting research, User Guide or any further information on how Insetting could help you.


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