Soil is a massive carbon sink that’s stored away emissions for centuries. But years of destructive farming practices have released much of this carbon. Could incentivizing farmers help restore—and expand—soil’s carbon-carrying capacity? 

In theory, yes. But the market for soil carbon credits—literally paying farmers to improve their practices—needs serious reform.  

In this episode, Shayle talks with Freya Chay, program manager for carbon removal at CarbonPlan. The fundamental problem is that the existing carbon credits don’t do what they say they will do: permanently lock away additional carbon. Freya and Shayle survey the big challenges of the market and explore potential fixes, covering questions like:

  • How do we measure—using models, samplings and satellites—the amount of carbon in a plot of soil?
  • What tools do we have to make sure the carbon will stay in the ground, such as buffer pools and ton-year accounting?
  • The additionality question: Without the credit, would the carbon have been captured anyway? Or would it have remained locked away anyway?
  • What role could third-party grading systems play in differentiating high-quality credits from low-quality ones?


  • CarbonPlan: A buyer’s guide to soil carbon offsets
  • CarbonPlan: Unpacking ton-year accounting
  • Canary Media: Carbon storage gets dirty: The movement to sequester CO2 in soils
  • Sylvera: Carbon Credit Ratings: Frameworks & Processes White Paper


Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

Catalyst is supported by Antenna Group. For 25 years, Antenna has partnered with leading clean-economy innovators to build their brands and accelerate business growth. If you’re a startup, investor, enterprise, or innovation ecosystem that’s creating positive change, Antenna is ready to power your impact. Visit to learn more.

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