Why are wineries participating in the Carbon Reduction Challenge?
What does it mean to be certified by the Carbon Reduction Challenge?
How do you measure greenhouse gas emissions?
What was included in the measurement of Carbon Reduction Challenge member’s emissions?
What are the member reporting requirements?
Are vineyard emissions reported?
Who measures the carbon emissions from the wineries?
Who verifies the emissions?
Are vineyards and wineries a major source of greenhouse gas emissions?
Why are Carbon Reduction Challenge wineries encouraged to become members of The Climate Registry?
How can I be sure that members in the Carbon Reduction Challenge certification are not greenwashing?
Anyone can buy Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Reduction Challenge–certified wineries doing to reduce their carbon footprint?
How do I know that the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets are high quality?
What are the climate benefits from Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets?
Carbon Reduction Challenge wineries may be reducing carbon, but do their wines taste good?

 

Why are wineries participating in the Carbon Reduction Challenge?
Global climate change is a real threat to Northwest wine industries. A study co-authored by Gregory V. Jones, PhD, a leading climatologist in the field of viticulture, estimates that potential premium winegrape production area in the conterminous United States could decline by up to 81% by the late 21st century. While wineries recognize that their efforts alone cannot affect the outcome of climate change, they want to be active in addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Northwest wineries are participating as a collective group to share greenhouse gas reduction practices and lessons among wineries and growers. More information about climate change and wine is available here.

back to top

What does it mean to be certified by the Carbon Reduction Challenge?
Membership means producing an annual inventory of emissions with the goal of continual reductions over time by implementing energy efficiency and other emissions reduction measures. Members who are successfully verified by a third-party inspector receive certification once they reduce their energy intensity by 5% (typically within the first 2-3 years of the program) for their winemaking facility (grape and wine certification are not included in the Carbon Reduction Challenge certification). To retain certification, members must continually demonstrate verifiable reductions.  Members undergo an independent third-party verification of greenhouse gas emissions reductions and reporting.

back to top

How do you measure greenhouse gas emissions?
For accounting purposes, greenhouse gas emissions are broken into three categories. The separation of these three scope categories is key to managing emissions reporting and the calculating a carbon footprint. Each scope is described below and represented in Figure 1.

WRI/WBCSD 2011

Scope 1: emissions are those over which a company has direct control via ownership of activities;
Scope 2
: is purchased electricity, heat or steam; and
Scope 3
: all indirect emissions that occur as a result of facility or business activities that use goods or resources with potential greenhouse gas emissions

back to top

What was included in the measurement of Carbon Reduction Challenge member’s emissions?
Scope 1 and Scope 2 are included in almost all mandatory and voluntary reporting schemes. The separation of scopes ensures that no double accounting occurs at the regional level when greenhouse gas emissions are aggregated. Scope 1 and Scope 2 are typically the emissions categories companies use when calculating a greenhouse gas emissions and developing plans to minimize their impact.

Scope 3 emissions are part of the product life cycle and are therefore critical for calculating and managing full life-cycle impact and value-chain emissions. Although emerging national standards simply require accounting for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, the Northwest wineries participating in the Carbon Reduction Challenge recognize the importance of capturing the emissions data that occurs in transportation and packaging. Over time, and with additional scientific analysis, the Carbon Reduction Challenge will require Scope 3–related emissions reporting.

back to top

What are the member reporting requirements?
Baseline accounting includes direct and indirect emissions. Direct emissions are from Scope 1 (e.g, on-site combustion, manufacturing processes and from company-owned transportation vehicles) and indirect emissions are associated with Scope 2 (e.g, purchased electricity, steam, and heat consumption).

The CRC program provides members with opportunities to go beyond operational energy reductions. These milestones include measuring and reducing emissions associated with other aspects of your business operations, known as Scope 3 emissions, investment in verified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), and Carbon Offsets to take action to support community renewable energy and emissions reductions projects, and participation with The Climate Registry to gain national recognition for emissions reporting.

back to top

Are vineyard emissions reported?
To date, there is no generalized or specialized model for determining vineyard greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or carbon sequestration. However, there are models developed for estimating winery emissions. This is possible because wineries are a closed system where inputs and outputs are easily quantified and standardized to determine models by which to estimate GHG emissions. The vineyard is not a closed system; rather, it is an ecosystem consisting of the crop plants, non-crop plants, atmosphere, rhizosphere (soil and root interface), and the microbiome (microbial population within the vineyard ecosystem—soil, plant surface, etc.). The microbiome is an important but not yet defined or understood component of the whole ecosystem, and it likely plays an essential role on processes such as nitrification and development of GHGs and sequestration of carbon through organic matter evolution. Research into the microbiome is just beginning, and it will take many years to determine the microbial composition, role of individual microbes, and greater ecosystem-level role of the whole microbiome within the context of plant, soil, and environment.

The environment is a considerable factor in the function of the ecosystem, and it can be highly variable within a vineyard and a region and across time (seasons). Environment plays a critical role in vine and non-crop plant growth responses and microbial population dynamics in the soil and on plant surfaces.

When we consider the complexity of the vineyard system, it is easy to understand how difficult it is to even begin quantifying the inputs and outputs that would be a part of a usable model to estimate emissions. Making a generalized model is even more difficult given the differences in soils, environment, and cultivars. Winemakers have control over the environment in a winery and can more easily influence and manipulate the system. Conversely, the only control a viticulturist has on a given vineyard is the selection of cultivar, clone and rootstock, vineyard design, and inputs such as fungicides, fertilizers, tillage, cover cropping, and irrigation. There is no control over the climate, weather, soil type, topography, and the microbiome. Inputs into the vineyard system are not easy to quantify, because they are not all standardized man-made inputs but inputs from the entire ecosystem.

An example of complexities of models
It is important to note that there is not a well-defined phenol–physiological model for grapevines to date. A phenol–physiological model takes into account the vine’s growth stages (phenology) and physiology (growth, development, biochemistry, etc.) to estimate growth and development. Significant research has been conducted to understand vine physiology by researchers across the world. However, there currently are not usable physiological models created. Examples of physiological models under development include VitiSim by Alan Lakso (Cornell University, Geneva, NY) and development of a model by Stefano Poni (Instituto di Fruitti-Viticoltura, Piacenza, Italy). However, after nearly a decade of development, neither is fully developed for use in research or practical management, as these models are not fully defined or validated. Part of the reason for the lack of a well-defined vine-growth model is the variability in the vineyard ecosystem and cultivars, clones and rootstocks, all of which play into the ultimate vine physiology of a grapevine and vineyard. This serves as just one example of the complexity of the vine/vineyard.

Pulling together a model
In order to develop sound models for estimating GHG emissions or carbon sequestration, significant research needs to be conducted across a wide range of growing regions and conditions. This must also be conducted at the controlled level by greenhouse or growth chamber studies for plant physiology. Focused research on each component of the ecosystem must also be studied. Tying this all together to understand the function as a whole is a step that comes after understanding each component of the system. To develop and understand the vineyard emissions completely means that we would understand the ecosystem fully. However, that seems next to impossible at this point. Models can be built with a lot of input data from research already conducted, but even only very generalized models may be created that may not accurately estimate GHG emissions.

back to top

Who measures the carbon emissions from the wineries?
Wineries complete a greenhouse gas inventory tool specially designed for the wine industry by Advantage IQ, Inc. and based on an international protocol developed for the wine industry by Provisor. The greenhouse gas inventory tool is consistent with The Climate Registry’s standards, a national organization that serves as an inventory for company greenhouse gas emissions data.

back to top

Who verifies the emissions?
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) will verify emissions reported by Carbon Reduced members. The ODA is suited to this task from their experience verifying vineyards and wineries for Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE).

back to top

Are vineyards and wineries a major source of greenhouse gas emissions?
Vineyards and wineries are not major emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, but they are directly affected by climate change. Because grapes are more sensitive than most agricultural crops, vineyards and wineries are some of the first agricultural producers to feel the effects of climate change.

back to top

Why are Carbon Reduction Challenge wineries  encouraged to become members of the The Climate Registry?
The Climate Registry (TCR) has emerged as the national registry for greenhouse gas emissions. TCR is a nonprofit collaboration among North American states, provinces, and territories that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify, and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions into a single registry. With an accurate account of their greenhouse gas emissions inventories, Registry members are able to examine their energy expenses and identify where they can implement efficient practices to achieve overall cost savings. TCR membership demonstrates wineries’ dedication to the process of greenhouse gas measurement and emissions reduction and transparency of emissions information.

back to top

How can I be sure that members in the Carbon Reduction Challenge certification are not greenwashing?
Participating member wineries have completed a transparent, rigorous process that is aligned with national greenhouse gas reporting standards. Members have made a commitment to invest in specific operational changes that will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

back to top

Anyone can buy Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Reduction Challenge–certified wineries doing to reduce their carbon footprint?
The Carbon Neutral Challenge, the pilot precursor to the certification, placed emphasis on vineyards and wineries to first mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Members of the Carbon Reduction Challenge receive a guidebook called Greenhouse Gas Reduction Practices specifically tailored to the wine industry that assists members in choosing feasible and cost-effective operational changes.

Members are required to make significant greenhouse gas reductions from large investments such as solar panels and other renewable energy to lighting retrofits, tank insulation, cellar partitioning, biodiesel in vineyard tractors, a reduction of the number of wine shipments to cellar club members, to smaller changes such as recycling initiatives and purchase of products made locally. The Carbon Reduction Challenge is a collaborative initiative that encourages and emphasizes dialogue for best practices among participating members.

back to top

How do I know that the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets are high quality?
The CRC program provides members with opportunities to go beyond operational energy reductions. These milestones include investment in verified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), and Carbon Offsets to take action to support community renewable energy and emissions reductions projects. The Carbon Reduction Challenge Technical Committee conducts an extensive audit to find quality, verifiable, and preferably regional RECs and Carbon Offsets. RECs must be Green-e Energy certified and Carbon Offsets must be registered with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR).

Green-e Energy certification requires that sellers of certified renewable energy disclose clear and useful information to potential customers, allowing consumers to make informed choices. Green-e Energy Certification also ensures that the project are new, you are the only one that can claim the benefits of the renewable energy you bought, and your purchase goes beyond what is required by law or claimed against a mandate for renewable energy generation.

The CAR offset program focuses on ensuring the environmental integrity of greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects to create and support financial and environmental value in the U.S. carbon market. It does this by establishing high-quality standards for quantifying and verifying greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects, overseeing independent third-party verification bodies, issuing carbon credits generated from such projects, and tracking the credits over time on a transparent, publicly accessible system.

back to top

What are the climate benefits from Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets?
Investing in a REC and Carbon Offset means that the wineries are taking full responsibility for the emissions from their business that they have not reduced. Carbon Offset can come from the agriculture sector, where projects eliminate methane—a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and that accounts for a third of climate change.

back to top

Carbon Reduction Challenge wineries may be reducing carbon, but do their wines taste good?
Wineries participating in the Carbon Reduction Challenge are some of the most renowned within and outside of the Northwest. For a list of members click here.

back to top