images from Thailand and jatropha fields

Carbon power: Attacking global poverty, climate change

nutshellMichigan State University is a world leader in using environmental research aimed at fighting poverty and slowing climate change.

Called Carbon2Markets, the research encompasses many collaborative projects with researchers and farmers in Thailand, Laos and other Asian and African countries to incorporate new crops such as jatropha trees into farming operations. Each project is tailored to fit the agricultural, environmental and economic needs of the region.

The research has two main goals:

  • Teach some of the world’s poorest farmers to grow crops that can sequester carbon, allowing them to earn money from carbon offset credits in global carbon markets. Keeping more carbon in the soil means less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Ensure that these carbon-sequestering crops are either high-value and can be sold for a good profit, or can be used to benefit the community (crops that can be fermented into biodiesel for example).

Growing smart, sustainable crops can reduce greenhouse gases while increasing a family’s income, which means a greener future for everyone. Other sustainable crops include shea and teak.

“We have an exciting opportunity to leverage the growing carbon financial market in the United States and Europe to assist poor farmers in developing countries,” said David Skole, professor of forestry and leader of the Carbon2Markets projects.

The work illustrates how MSU is using environmental research to lead the world to a better, healthier tomorrow – both economically and environmentally – truly embodying the university's transformation from land-grant to world-grant.

This report documents five of the projects in Thailand and Laos.

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