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LIFE Carbon Farming

Development and implementation of a result-based funding mechanism for carbon farming in mixed crop livestock systems in Europe.


Climate change represents a major threat to society, the economy and the environment. It is driven by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activities, particularly fossil fuel consumption. These heat trapping gases, also collectively known as carbon emissions are warming the climate system at an alarming rate. To mitigate climate change and global warming, Ireland and the European Union (EU) have committed to decreasing carbon emissions by more than half by 2030 and aim to achieve net-zero emissions i.e. climate neutrality by 2050.

Carbon farming is a new land management activity focused on curbing climate change through the management of carbon stocks and GHG emissions at a farm scale. Mixed and grass-based livestock farmers can support Irish and European efforts to combat climate change by 1) improving efficiency, 2) adopting low emission technologies and, 3) removing and storing more carbon in soils and vegetation i.e. enhance sequestration. This type of climate action is encouraged by the EU in the “Farm to Fork” strategy and is expected to grow once an EU certification framework has been agreed for carbon farming.


LIFE Carbon Farming aims to create a mechanism to reward farmers for reducing GHG emissions and/or for increasing carbon sequestration. A number of options will be considered for funding this mechanism, including public and private carbon markets. This route currently appears to be the most promising to support the implementation of climate actions on farm. However, many farmers in Ireland and Europe currently struggle to access carbon markets, as few tools have been approved for measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) emission reductions and carbon removals on livestock farms. LIFE CARBON farming will develop a standard MRV process to overcome this obstacle and setup a funding mechanism to encourage greater adoption of climate actions on commercial farms.


The overarching goal of LIFE CARBON FARMING is to employ financing solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of 700 livestock farms by 15% over a 6-year period. The specific objectives of this European LIFE project are:

  1. Establish reference levels for GHG emissions from livestock farms and determine baseline rates for carbon sequestration.
  2. Develop and apply climate actions to mitigate the carbon footprint of livestock production.
  3. Quantify the GHG emission reduction and carbon sequestration gain caused by 18 carbon farming projects/initiatives.
  4. Evaluate the wider environmental impact of applying climate actions on livestock farms.
  5. Analyse the socio-economic impact of carbon farming projects/initiatives.


LIFE Carbon Farming is large collaborative project comprised of 50 partners in 6 European countries namely, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain. The project is led by Teagasc in Ireland and is coordinated by the French Livestock Institute (IDELE) in Europe. The leading partners in LIFE Carbon Farming are working to mitigate the climate impact of 700 demonstration livestock farms, 40 of which will be located in Ireland. Irish livestock farms participating in LIFE Carbon Farming are involved in the Signpost programme. Teagasc are leading this programme, which like LIFE Carbon Farming, aims to reduce GHG emissions and improve the environmental footprint of livestock farms.

Life Carbon Farming partners

Figure 1. Map of countries involved in LIFE Carbon Farming. Note: Figures refer to number of livestock farms participating in each country.


LIFE Carbon Farming is building on the findings in LIFE Beef Carbon and LIFE Dairy Carbon. Both of these projects demonstrated that livestock farms can reduce carbon emissions without compromising beef or dairy production. However, they also showed it is challenging to reduce the carbon footprint of commercial livestock farms without expert advice and financial support. LIFE CARBON FARMING will work to develop both forms of support by collaborating with multiple stakeholders i.e. livestock farmers, advisors, certification companies, aggregators and carbon buyers.

The main actions of LIFE CARBON FARMING are:

  • Create harmonized tools and standards for whole farm sustainability assessments.
  • Develop an MRV process for implementing carbon farming initiatives.
  • Apply low carbon practices and technologies on 700 mixed-crop livestock farms, 40 of which will be located in Ireland.
  • Determine implementation costs of carbon farming projects.
  • Establish result-based carbon funding mechanism via 18 carbon farming projects.
  • Structure, build and promote a low carbon farming network in Europe.
  • Develop a common EU framework and strategy to replicate CARBON FARMING projects.

Expected Outcomes

  • A network of 700 demonstration farms generating carbon credits by implementing low carbon practices and technologies.
  • Referential for assessing costs associated with carbon mitigation measures and an engineering tool to facilitate carbon farming projects.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions mitigated by 350,000 tons of CO2 equivalents and carbon footprint of livestock farms decreased by 15% in 6 years.
  • Carbon credit sales ranging from €3,000 to €12,000 per livestock farm; total revenue from public and private carbon markets amounting to €5 million.
  • A cohort of 78 experienced advisors and consultants trained in applying carbon monitoring instruments and carbon farming projects.
  • A harmonised results-based climate funding mechanism that will incentivise adoption of carbon farming initiatives.

Project Flyer: LIFE Carbon Farming
Project Coordinator: French Livestock Institute (IDELE)
Leading Partners: Teagasc, ASOPROVAC, ATB, CREA, I4CE, University of Liege
Duration: 01/10/2021 to 01/10/2027
Contact: Donal O’Brien

For further information visit the EU LIFE Carbon Farming website and check out our newsletters and reports.