Monday, May 29, 2006

Peter Andrews endorses Carbon Coalition

Peter Andrews, whose Natural Sequence Farming approach to water management was made famous on ABC TV's "Australian Story" endorsed the objectives of the Carbon Coalition and urged cooperation between the Coalition and his organisation.
"We have to cooperate if we are to succeed," he said.

Peter and Coalition Convenor Michael Kiely addressed 250 farmers from the Manning District in Gloucester, NSW at a LandCare Innovative Farmers’ Forum on Saturday. "The processes for achieving high carbon levels will in many cases be the same as those needed for restoring balance in landscape hydrology," he said. His beliefs are based on the bedrock principle that we should be managing the landscape to mimic Mother Nature. “This country ran itself and ran its water and it costed nothing. So if we start to plan these things and it costs a lot of money, then we’ve probably got it wrong,” he told the gathering.
Michael's presentation - “Uamby: A Carbon Farm” – was based on soil management trials run by his wife Louisa at their Mudgee district property Uamby over five years and naturally led into a presentation about the Carbon Coalition. The Uamby case study was chosen for the event because so many different techniques for building soil carbon had been tried, according to organiser Col Freeman of Manning Landcare.
Many present expressed interest in the Coalition and a special Q&A session was held at the close of the seminar focussing on the Coalition and how people can get involved.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Carbon rises to US$23.50/t

The price quoted on European carbon trading markets for a ton of carbon rose to US$23.50 yesterday. (Prices shown in Euros on chart.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Carbon price bounces back

The price quoted on European carbon trading markets for a ton of carbon bouncedd back to US$20.50 yesterday. (Prices shown in Euros on chart.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More Republicans break ranks with Bush on Carbon

The US House Appropriations Committee this week amended the 2007 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to call on Congress to enact a mandatory greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system. The amendment was sponsored by Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), was passed by voice vote on May 10, 2006. Committee Chair Jerry Lewis (R-CA) voiced support for the amendment and refused a request from some Republicans to hold a roll-call vote. Dicks called the amendment's passage a "first step." House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told E&E Daily,"Global warming is now accepted by almost all."
The appropriations bill is now headed to the House floor, where the amendment could be removed before the bill is passed.
The language of the amendment is as follows:

"The Congress finds that (1) greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere are causing average temperatures to rise at a rate outside the range of natural variability and are posing a substantial risk of rising sea-levels, altered patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts; (2) there is a growing scientific consensus that human activity is a substantial cause of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere; and (3) mandatory steps will be required to slow or stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

"It is the sense of the Congress that there should be enacted a comprehensive and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of such emissions at a rate and in a manner that (1) will not significantly harm the United States economy ; and (2) will encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions." (5/11/06)

On March 29, 2006 Representatives Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced the "Keep America Competitive Global Warming Policy Act of 2006”. "The continuing absence of a meaningful, mandatory policy in the United States is a significant impediment to a global consensus to slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions," they stated in a press release. "By introducing this bill, we are working to fill that void and encourage lawmakers to take the first step toward responding to the increasingly urgent signs of global warming."

The bill creates a mandatory cap for greenhouse gas emissions, set prospectively at emissions levels three years after the enactment of the legislation, rather than at today's levels. It also includes a "safety valve" that initally limits the price of an emission allowance to $25 per ton of carbon (equivalent to roughly $7 per ton of carbon dioxide) in order to prevent a price run-up. The price of the safety valve can increase beyond inflation only after the President and Secretary of State determine that developing countries are taking comparable actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, the bill is revenue neutral to the Treasury and includes free allocation of allowances to promote the development and implementation of carbon-reducing technologies.

(Report from the AMerican Geological Institute)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Carbon market volumes booming

The global carbon market could be worth US$30 billion in 2006, according to the World Bank. Carbon contracts worth US$7.5 billion changed hands to the end of April, compared with a total of almost $11 billion in 2005.
This follows a 40-times increase in volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances traded in 2005 compared to 2004.
"We have a working market that has grown faster than expected," said Andrei Marcu, president of the International Emissions Trading Association.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Don't plant that tree! Grow grass instead

Trees are not always good carbon sinks! Nature magazine let the cat out of the bag in 2002: planting trees is not the best way to fight global warming. Growing grass is.
Nature reported Duke University scientists saying that trees and shrubs growing in areas of good rainfall are less effective storehouses for carbon than native grasslands. Studies that found for trees ignored what was going on below ground, said Robert Jackson, associate professor of biology at Duke University. Under wet conditions, trees and shrubs can cause soil to lose carbon, effectively negating any sequesteringof carbon in the trees themselves.
``The study suggests that we need to look very closely at what's below ground before we add up just what's stored above ground in tree trunks,'' he said.

Six pairs of adjacent western grasslands were studied in the US. In one of each pair, trees and shrubs had invaded sometime in the last 100 years. In the drier locations, the "regrowth" led to an increase in the amount of carbon locked up in the soil. In wetter areas, however, the opposite happened.
Professor Jackson believes, "Grasses are deceptively productive. You don't see where all the carbon goes so there is a misconception that woody species store more carbon. That's just not always the case.''
The study helps dispel the notion that humans can plant their way out of global warming, said Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club global warming and energy program. ``We are going to need to tackle the industrial sources of emissions head-on rather than just plant a bunch of trees,'' Becker said.

"Fantastic news," says Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery greeted new of the Carbon Coalition as 'fantastic'.

"Thank you for this fantastic news. I really think that once farmers realize the enormous financial potential of biofuels and sedquestration we will see a swift government turn around on this issue. The job at the moment is a political one - getting polluters to pay for their right to pollute. With that great opportunities will arise.

Best wishes,


Mr Flannery's books The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers have raised the soil depletion and Global Warming issues to prominence on the national agenda.

While there is a considerable body of evidence put forward by sceptics seeking to debunk Global Warming as a myth perpetrated by environmentalists in order to win political control of natural resource management, the weight of scientific opinion in the world is so uniformly behind the predictions of warming that the community now seems to accept it as a fact. The Carbon Coalition does not agree with everything put forward by green activists, but accepts that Global Warming is a real issue, that emission caps should be imposed on greenhouse gas emitters, and that an offset market for trading carbon credits should be instigated in Australia. Moreover, barriers to Australian farmers trading their carbon credits on the European market should be removed by Australia ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sackett attacks Carbon Farming

It had to happen. The vested interests of traditional agriculture are fighting back. In a letter to the editor of The AUSTRALIAN FARM JOURNAL, a leading rural business consultant David Sackett attacked Carbon Coalition Councillor David Marsh for being a "carbon farmer", accusing him of running a 'subsistence farming' operation because he wasn't driving the soil to maximise short term profitability. He complained that the article in the Journal which featured David's extraordinary performance over the three years of drought did not provide enough financial data. He claimed David was understocked when David was stocking to the capacity of the landscape. In other words, Sackett complained that David did not destroy and deplete the soil by running his property hard, spreading artificial fertilisers which increase the acidity of the soil, lead to algal blooms in waterways, and kill the natural microbial life in the soil that builds carbon.

As David is too much a gentleman to engage in a spat, and as it is an attack on carbon farming concept, the Coalition wrote a letter in reply:

Dear Sir,

David Sackett’s contribution to Australian agriculture is well known, but his dismissal of David Marsh’s approach to farming is unworthy of him.
David made a profit in the three worst drought years in living memory. (How many farmers can say that?) He did not have to handfeed at all. He did not lose groundcover in that period. He therefore did not have to resow pastures after the drought, a considerable saving in capital expenditure.
He did it by “matching livestock carrying numbers to the carrying capacity of the landscape” and by keeping input costs down. Gross turnover is irrelevant. Profit is what counts.
Input costs have rocketed ahead of prices that farmers can get for their produce. At the same time the natural resource base on which they depend for future profits is rapidly declining.
Environmental entrepreneurs like David are interested in tomorrow’s profits as well as today’s. If businesses benchmarking in the top 5% of production economic performance were forced to account for the real cost of their operations (deferred cost of depeleted resource base), their balance sheets would look very different.
This is not an ideological divide. It is a paradigm shift. There can be little understanding between people operating under different paradigms because the past cannot understand the future and the future cannot talk to the past in terms it will understand. Farmers like David are simply getting on with learning how to increase profits while improving their resource base. They are not insisting that others be like them.
David is a member of the Council of the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming, a new farmers’ movement which aims to enable farmers to sell carbon credits on the global greenhouse emissions market, based on the carbon sequestered in agricultural soils. This development will significantly alter the economics of farming as well as attitudes to the natural resource base.

Michael Kiely
Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming
Goolma NSW

Saturday, May 06, 2006

What is it about Conservatives and Climate Change?

163 countries have signed the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and two governments have refused: conservative governments in America and Australia. Now the new Canadian Conservative government wants to join them.
It has slashed spending on the country's climate change program. Canada's Liberal government had committed C$10 billion up to 2012 for climate change, but that has been cut to C$2 billion.
Although Canada has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and has a target to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, it would like to skip out and join the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6). This arrangement was set up by the US to counter the damage done to its environmental credentials, both at home and abroad, when it refused to ratify Kyoto Protocol which it had helped to develop. Joining it in the "Coalition of the Unwilling" - countries unwilling to force companies emitting greenhouse gases to buy carbon credits - was one country: Australia. China, India, Japan, and South Korea are members but also signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. AP6 is a voluntary agreement that focuses on developing clean technologies but, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, does not impose binding targets for reducing emissions. AP6 represents more than 50% of world carbon emissions while Kyoto covers only 35%.
Canada's desire for joining AP6 was criticised by Prof. Gordon McBean of the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction at the University of Western Ontario. Voluntary programmes mostly measure actions that companies would have taken anyway, he says. While Canada emits only 2% of world emissions, it is very vulnerable to climate change.
PM Stephen Harper said Conservative "ideologues" in his government were urging withdrawal from Kyoto, even though the majority of Canadians support the Protocol. Slashing the budget was the next best thing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Carbon market hits record low!

These prices - from Point Carbon - are in Euros:

Just weeks after hitting a record high of US$37/ton, the price of Carbon crashed to around US$10/ton on the European market. The reason?
Emission reports from the Netherlands, Czech Republic, France and Walloon region of Belgium came in at lower than expected rates for 2005. The demand for carbon credits depends on the actual levels of GHG emissions of various countries compared to their targets. If the countries achieve higher level of emission reductions than their targets, then the companies in those countries need not buy additional carbon credits. If they emit higher levels they have to buy additional carbon credits in their own country and in developing countries to meet their reduction targets.
Greater awareness of emission targets and the heavy cost for non-compliance may dampen demand for carbon credits.
Still, at US10/ton, farmers stand to make a hefty margin on carbon farming and sequestration.