CE26 - Innovation, travail

The Promises of Soil Carbon Sequestration: Innovations, Organisations, Knowledge – POSCA

The Promises of Soil Carbon Sequestration

Aiming to balance greenhouse gas emissions and the sequestering capacities of non-atmospheric sinks, the Paris Agreement reached at the COP 21 in 2015 signals the new centrality of carbon sinks, including soils, as a key means of enabling climate stability. POSCA focuses on the rising promotion of soil as carbon sink in climate policies and how this is reconfiguring the way in which we come to know and manage soil.

Unpacking the politics of soil carbon knowledge

Long viewed mostly in terms of agricultural fertility, soil is now increasingly viewed as a global stock of underground carbon that we need to measure, map, model, control and optimize. As soil is recast in terms of its place in the global carbon cycle, soils sciences are shifting from an obscure, naturalistic and taxonomy-oriented field, toward new advisory and regulatory roles related to the development of Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS) methods, metrics and schemes; they are also faced with new uncertainties and tensions regarding the measurement and stability of carbon in soils. POSCA aims to account for the shifting agendas, practices and organisations of soil sciences, defined as a broad network encompassing soil researchers, technicians, and non-academic experts in agricultural, forestry and land planning organizations, as soil is recast as a carbon sink. <br />Our key hypothesis is that the politics of soil knowledge are being reconfigured at<br />(i) the epistemological level: from a descriptive, field-based research into the history of soils, to a computer-based and data-intensive predictive research that becomes part of Earth system modelling efforts.<br />(ii) the political level: from a classification-oriented academic field, to a regulatory science providing decision-makers with methods and standards to measure soil carbon.<br />(iii) the economic level: from supporting agricultural and forestry development, to organizing soil carbon accounting metrics and carbon credits markets.

Relying on a multidisciplinary team of 4 sociologists and 2 soil scientists, POSCA will unpack the reconfiguration of the politics of soil knowledge, defined as the various visions of the type of soil knowledge that matters and their embedment in socio-material infrastructures and organizations. The project will develop a sociological investigation, in France and in the international context, into: soil carbon science (i.e. modelisation and monitoring infrastructures: socio-history of Orchidee model and the European network of carbon measurements ICOS) (WP1); soil carbon regulations (i.e. public and private initiatives to produce standardized methods and metrics: investigation of the role of consulting officies and start-ups in the implementation of Label Bas Carbone) (WP2); and soil carbon management (i.e. local SCS scheme: Label Bas Carbone and PCAET at the national and local levels) (WP3).
The project uses mixed sociological methods including semi-directed interviews, participative observation, documentary analysis and surveys.

POSCA ongoing results are located in the following fields:
(i) Science and Technology Studies (STS) i.e. by scrutinizing the reconfiguration of soil sciences, a broadly neglected discipline in STS (see article in progress by L. Manach, C. Granjou and H. Guillemot)
(ii) the Sociology of Climatic Policies i.e. by investigating the development of new SCS organizations and methods at the interface between science, policy and the market (see article submitted by L. Magnin and A. Doré and communicaitons by L. Magnin)
(iii) The Sociology of Carbon Accounting, i.e. by accounting for the expansion of carbon accounting instruments toward soils and their significance for the various agricultural and forestry sectors involved (see communications by R. Leclerc)
(iv) Soil Sciences, understood as multidisciplinary field, i.e. by unpacking the ongoing reconfiguration of soil’s meaning and purpose in society (see the literature review article published in Soil Security by Granjou and Meulemans)



See publications and communications of the project.

WP1
Scientific paper in progress with L.Manach, C. Granjou et H. Guillemot sur les dynamiques de « climatisation » de la modélisation du carbone du sol.

WP2
Contribution to special issue « The politics of decarbonization » de la Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies (publication prévue mi 2023).

WP3
Communication by Robin Leclerc, LISIS, « Mesurer localement le carbone des sols, une analyse par les outils de quantification », november 2022.

WP4
workshop ‘Les promesses du carbone des sols : regards croisés’ en main 2022 avwith participants from Ademe et and I4C.

special issue edition in progress ‘The politics of decarbonization - Investigating the carbon-related transformations of production activities, organizations and sectors » Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies. Publication planned mid 2023.

Literature review article : Granjou C. and Meulemans G., Bringing soils to life in the Human and Social Sciences. Soil Security.

Articles in peer reviewed journals
1-Granjou C. and Meulemans G. 2022. Bringing soils to life in the Human and Social Sciences. Soil Security. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S266700622200048X doi.org/10.1016/j.soisec.2022.100082
2-Granjou, C., Banos, V., Le Berre, S. et Sergent, A. édition du numéro spécial ‘The politics of decarbonization - Investigating the carbon-related transformations of production activities, organizations and sectors » Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies. Publication prévue mi 2023.
3-Granjou C., 2022. Compte-rendu d’ouvrage. Nigel Clark et Bronislaw Szerszynski, Planetary Social Thought. The Anthropocene Challenge to the social sciences. Revue d’anthropologie des connaissances 16(1). journals.openedition.org/rac/25804
4- Magnin L., Doré A. “Start-ups” to “decarbonize” agriculture? The political sociology of a greening promise. Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies Problem [Submited]

Communications
1. Granjou, C., 2021. Organisation et animation du colloque international « les sols dans la transition socio-écologique », colloque international en ligne, 9-11 juin 2021, Université Grenoble Alpes. (avec O. Labussière et al.)
2. Magnin L., Doré A. (2022-09-27). “Start-ups” to “decarbonize” agriculture? The political sociology of a greening promise. Presented at : Environmental Governance Seminar, Cornell, États-Unis (2022-09-27 - 2022-09-27)
1- Granjou, C., 2022. Les promesses du carbone des sols. Intervention au séminaire Twix, ETTIS, Bordeaux, le 1er avril 2022.
2- Granjou, C., 2021. Intervention plénière : La climatisation des sols : enjeux et programme de recherche. Ecole d’été « autour du 2°C » (CNRS- INRAE), Autrans, 20 septembre 2021.
3- Magnin L., Doré A. (2022-12-16). Des « startups » pour décarboner l’agriculture ? Sociologie d’une catégorie performative d’économie politique. Presented at : 16èmes Journées de Recherches en Sciences Sociales, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2022-12-16)
4- Magnin L., Doré A. (2022-06-23). Des « startups » pour décarboner l’agriculture ? Sociologie d’une catégorie performative d’économie politique. Presented at : The politics of decarbonisation. Investigating the carbon-related transformations of production activities, organizations and sectors, Bordeaux, France (2022-06-23)
5- Manach, L., 21 octobre 2022. «Les agriculteurs, « soldats de la lutte contre le changement climatique » ? L’agriculture, le changement climatique et la séquestration carbone dans les sols«, Séminaire Changement climatique : sciences, politique, société, ENS (Paris)
6- Manach, L., 20 mai 2022. «Les sols et le climat : séquestrer du carbone dans les sols pour mitiger le changement climatique, itinéraire d’une idée controversée » Centre Alexandre Koyré EHESS (Paris).
3. Guillemot H. (2021-10-20), « Some debates among climatologists on the development and use of climate models ». Presented at International ENS-PSL, ENS, Paris

Aiming to balance greenhouse gas emissions and the sequestering capacities of non-atmospheric sinks, the Paris Agreement reached at the COP 21 in 2015 signals the new centrality of carbon sinks, including soils, as a key means of enabling climate stability. POSCA focuses on the rising promotion of soil as carbon sink in climate policies and how this is reconfiguring the way in which we come to know and manage soil.
Long viewed mostly in terms of agricultural fertility, soil is now increasingly viewed as a global stock of underground carbon that we need to measure, map, model, control and optimize. As soil is recast in terms of its place in the global carbon cycle, soils sciences are shifting from an obscure, naturalistic and taxonomy-oriented field, toward new advisory and regulatory roles related to the development of Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS) methods, metrics and schemes; they are also faced with new uncertainties and tensions regarding the measurement and stability of carbon in soils. POSCA aims to account for the shifting agendas, practices and organisations of soil sciences, defined as a broad network encompassing soil researchers, technicians, and non-academic experts in agricultural, forestry and land planning organizations, as soil is recast as a carbon sink.
Relying on a multidisciplinary team of 4 sociologists and 2 soil scientists, POSCA will unpack the reconfiguration of the politics of soil knowledge, defined as the various visions of the type of soil knowledge that matters and their embedment in socio-material infrastructures and organizations. The project will develop a sociological investigation, in France and in the international context, into: soil carbon science (i.e. modelisation and monitoring infrastructures) (WP1); soil carbon regulations (i.e. public and private organisations and initiatives to produce standardized methods and metrics) (WP2); and soil carbon management (i.e. local SCS schemes) (WP3). WP4 is devoted to the project’s coordination.
Our key hypothesis is that the politics of soil knowledge are being reconfigured at
(i) the epistemological level: from a descriptive, field-based research into the history of soils, to a computer-based and data-intensive predictive research that becomes part of Earth system modelling efforts.
(ii) the political level: from a classification-oriented academic field, to a regulatory science providing decision-makers with methods and standards to measure soil carbon.
(iii) the economic level: from supporting agricultural and forestry development, to organizing soil carbon accounting metrics and carbon credits markets.
Social sciences have paid precious little attention to soil and soil/society relations so far. POSCA has strong innovative potential and will contribute to:
(i) Science and Technology Studies (STS) i.e. by scrutinizing the reconfiguration of soil sciences, a broadly neglected discipline in STS;
(ii) the Sociology of Climatic Policies i.e. by investigating the development of new SCS organizations and methods at the interface between science, policy and the market;
(iii) The Sociology of Carbon Accounting, i.e. by accounting for the expansion of carbon accounting instruments toward soils and their significance for the various agricultural and forestry sectors involved;
(iv) Soil Sciences, understood as multidisciplinary field, i.e. by unpacking the ongoing reconfiguration of soil’s meaning and purpose in society.
Despite its key ecological and social importance, soil remains widely understood as a stable surface and inert background at the top of which we live and act. In a context of pressing issues of soil degradation at the planetary scale and accelerated climate change, POSCA will contribute to a better social and political recognition of soil not as an inert surface, or a techno-fix for climate change mitigation, but as a three-dimensional ecosystem with key biogeochemical agency.

Project coordination

Céline Granjou (LABORATOIRE DES ECOSYSTEMES ET DES SOCIETES EN MONTAGNE)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

LESSEM LABORATOIRE DES ECOSYSTEMES ET DES SOCIETES EN MONTAGNE
LISIS Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Sciences, Innovations, Sociétés
EFNO ECOSYSTEMES FORESTIERS
LECA LABORATOIRE D'ECOLOGIE ALPINE
CAK Centre Alexandre Koyre
AGIR AGroécologie, Innovations, teRritoires

Help of the ANR 463,530 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2021 - 48 Months

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