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Australian Carbon Farming Emissions Biosequestration Framework Open to Consultation

January 13, 2011

Submissions on the Australian Government’s consultation paper on biological carbon sequestration – the Carbon Farming Initiative – are due on 21 January 2011. 

Greenhouse gas emissions from Agriculture in Australia constitute over 20% of national emissions.  Generation of carbon reduction from the sector is therefore a meaningful priority.  It has the capacity to unlock significant low-cost abatement.  The abatement would constitute carbon ‘offsets’.  This means that the sectoral activities in question would effectively not have an emissions liability, but could create credits for use by sectors with obligations under an emissions trading scheme.

The Carbon Farming Initiative is slated to start in July 2011, and is intended to include:

  • A carbon crediting mechanism;
  • Funding to fast-track the development of offset methodologies;
  • Information and facilitating tools.

Scheme coverage is broad, including: reforestation; livestock emissions; fertiliser emissions; manure management; soil carbon; savanna fire management; avoided deforestation; stubble residue; rice cultivation; and landfill waste.

Any offsets will fall under the National Carbon Offsets Standard, but differentiated between those that are Kyoto compliant and those that are not.  The former could be exchanged for internationally recognised tradable units – AAUs or ERUs.

The Government is now embarking on consultation meetings.

Carbon offsets from agriculture has the capacity to create a very substantial supply of low-cost credits.  The elephant in the room therefore is that a domestic greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme – CPRS) will be needed to create the demand necessary to make the scheme relevant and to fund projects.  Whether the current minority Government can pass such a program through Parliament is to be seen.

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