Fintech Earthbanc brings a private-sector mentality to regenerative agriculture by incentivizing organizations to lower their carbon footprints.
The earth can do many wondrous things, but it can’t replenish its soil under the stress of overfarming. The United States is losing soil 10 times faster than it’s being replenished, according to EarthDay.org. This not only makes it difficult to grow crops – but also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
One remedy is regenerative agriculture, which sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide and helps reverse climate change. According to Project Drawdown, expanding regenerative agriculture to cover 1 billion acres by 2050 would remove 23 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
One company leading the way to wider adoption of regenerative land management practices is Earthbanc, a fintech startup whose carbon, finance, and auditing/rating platforms aim to help clients lower their carbon footprints.
Earthbanc bills itself as the world’s first carbon and investment platform that leverages machine learning and satellite remote sensing to “continuously audit and rate landscape carbon, carbon offsets, and the green finance products that support carbon removal.”
The company has its fingers in a lot of different pies when it comes to regenerative agriculture and carbon-reduction solutions. An example is its collaboration with the European Space Agency. In this partnership, Earthbanc uses AI models based on satellite remote sensing data to study land regeneration projects and audit their carbon reduction impacts to verify carbon credits.
The company also uses blockchain technology to keep a transparent record of carbon reduction and link the regenerative work of farmers and land managers to the companies buying carbon credits.
“We’re the first fintech blockchain platform where you can deposit your carbon into a bank-like vault,” Co-Founder and CEO Tom Duncan said in a recent interview with Forbes. “Farmers register on the Earthbanc platform, and we measure the carbon sequestration in the landscape of that farmer.”
Earthbanc has already audited the carbon stocks of more than 13 million hectares of forestland worldwide using satellites and its proprietary remote sensing technology.
“We have large corporate buyers who are buying carbon on our platform every month,” Duncan said. “We’re selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of carbon, so a farmer can get paid for their ecosystem services.”
One advantage of Earthbanc’s sustainability strategy is that it is based on expert knowledge of land restoration and pays farmers in areas of the world “where the impact is the greatest,” he added.
The company operates in three main areas: carbon, regenerative finance (ReFi), and auditing/rating.
Its carbon platform tracks various carbon credit projects and supplies corporate buyers with audited credits, while its ReFi platform gives investors access to a diversified portfolio in the market. Earthbanc’s digital measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) platform, backed by the European Space Agency, aims to ensure carbon offsetting is precise and accurate by monitoring carbon projects.
Earthbanc was co-founded in 2019 by Duncan and Rishabh Khanna, who now serves as Chief Impact Officer. Duncan had earlier spent 15 years in land restoration. His work included markets in Australia where farmers bid to provide ecosystem services to improve water quality and biodiversity and sequester carbon.
“That project raised about $300 million and showed me that you could develop and deliver ecosystem services markets, but there just wasn’t enough scale,” Duncan told Forbes.
He also saw an opportunity to bring a private, mass-market approach to financing land regeneration. This has mostly been the domain of government programs, which risk getting scrapped when a government changes hands.
Duncan set his sights on a private-sector solution to incentivize regenerative land management practices that would be profitable, long-lasting, and scalable. His search ultimately led him to carbon credit markets.
Carbon credit programs such as those introduced by the European Commission in 2005 provide a financial incentive for companies to reduce their emissions. As regulatory bodies raise the bar in reducing carbon emissions, there is now heavy demand for carbon credits – and an opportunity for companies like Earthbanc to help clients lower their carbon footprints.The company’s next move is to launch an app that will enable anyone anywhere in the world to invest in and profit from sustainable land management – something Duncan calls a “regenerative finance revolution” that merges financial incentives with restoration projects designed for maximum impact.