Happison Chikova

PhD student

Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, Energy Environment and Society

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Happison Chikova is a 4-year PhD Geography student registered at the University of Dundee. The student is based at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. The PhD programme is a collaborative training partnership by the University of Dundee, Chivas Brothers Limited, and the James Hutton Institute 

In order to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius during the 21st century and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as per the universal Paris agreement of the 12th of December 2015, the Intergovernmental Pannel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested a net zero emission globally by the year 2050(IPCC, 2022). 

In November 2018, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) had reported  that ‘fundamental reform is required to ensure that land becomes a more effective carbon store’ (CCC, 2018), and suggested land use policy must promote radically different uses of the UK land to support deeper emissions reductions. 

The carbon trading mechanism presents an opportunity to mitigate climate change through Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs) reduction in the agricultural soils and enhance soil carbon sequestration through improved sustainable land management practices. The carbon trading mechanism lays a platform for business sustainability models within the agricultural supply chain to benefits farmers, the industry and the environment at large. The UK whisky industry could utilise the carbon trading business model to reduce its carbon footprint and satisfy compliance and its customers.

Since there has been slow progress in GHG emissions reduction within the agricultural soil management processes due to technical challenges (measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification) and lack of economic viable business models that suit local conditions in the United Kingdom, the student is looking at “Unlocking the potential of soils for carbon farming to meet net zero through real time GHG predictions” in the Chivas Brothers Limited whisky supply chain.  

The student is upscaling the technology developed in RETINA project by engaging various stakeholders ranging from farmers, private and public sector. The project is upscaling measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) platforms that are foundational in building a viable business model for both the farmer and the industry. The technology being used in this project includes field -based sensors, remote sensing, smart phone apps and integration models to confirm management practices effective on soil carbon and GHGs reductions for real time GHG predictions. 

The student is participating in the development of a carbon code by the UK government which contains requirement and rules for famers to set up soil carbon trading projects. The PhD programme creates carbon footprint models to identify hot spots through life cycle assessments of the barley production. The hot spots are also used in the Chivas Brothers Limited industrial production processes of grain for malt and spirits. This has potential improvements and viable business models for soil carbon trading. The PhD programme identifies market failures and outline a range of challenges to overcome to build a commercial case for the private sector via soil carbon trading.