Soil as a climate solution – August 21, 2020

Torri Estrada, Executive Director of Carbon Cycle Institute and Wendy Millet, Ranch Director of TomKat Ranch joined moderator CEO Ellie Cohen for an inspiring conversation about the myriad benefits of carbon sequestration in farming and ranching for a climate-safe future. Torri and Wendy provided the basics of how soil carbon sequestration works, examples of regenerative agriculture successes from farms and ranches across California, and insights into current and future policies for assessing and incentivizing this approach.

Per UN climate scientists, we must conservatively cut global emissions in half by 2030 and drawdown upwards of one trillion tons of warming pollutants we’ve already dumped into the atmosphere to have any hope of securing a climate-safe future. Capturing carbon from the air through soils management, vegetation and habitat management, and climate-smart habitat restoration is a key part of the climate solutions toolkit with many other benefits including enhanced resilience, food and water security, biodiversity, and job creation. Note that this is distinct from carbon capture and storage technologies that enable continued fossil fuel production. We join our partners in the urgent call for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel development, production, and use that disproportionately impacts lower-income communities and communities of color, coupled with a just transition for workers employed in these industries.

Torri Estrada is Executive Director at Carbon Cycle Institute and directs its policy and climate justice work. Previously, Torri was the program director at the Marin Community Foundation, where he managed the Foundation’s environmental grantmaking program and climate change initiative. Torri was the co-founder and a senior policy fellow with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water; served as Director of the Latino Issues Forum’s Environment and Sustainable Development Program; and was a Program Director at Urban Habitat, where Torri managed the Brownfields and Community Revitalization Project and co-developed its Leadership Development Program. Torri holds an MS in Environmental Sociology and Policy (with an emphasis on environmental justice) from the University of Michigan, and a joint BS/BA degree in Environmental Science and Policy and Ecological Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Wendy Millet is the Ranch Director of TomKat Ranch, TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation and LeftCoast Grassfed. In addition to working for several years on cattle and dude ranches in Wyoming and Montana, Wendy ran a local land trust, worked for a timber investment company, developed programs for an environmental economics research foundation, led education and leadership programs for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and spent 12 years at The Nature Conservancy working with farmers, ranchers, and timberland owners to protect and restore ranches, rivers and forests. Her efforts to share best practices led to work on several publications including: Land Use in America (Island Press), A Place-Based Partnership Manual (The Nature Conservancy of California) and Preserving California’s Natural Heritage: A Guide to Land and Water Conservation (California Resources Agency). Wendy holds a B.A. in Literature from Harvard. She studied Environmental Economics at the University of Washington and Environmental Planning at University of Virginia. She serves on the board of the California Council of Land Trusts, the Farmland Advisory Committee for Peninsula Open Space Trust, and the Board of Councilors of Save the Redwoods League.