Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Soils can be a net sink": Senior Soil Scientist

'The long term trial results highlight the fact that, by using the right management practices, we can turn a farm from a C source to a C sink," says Dr K Yin Chan, Principal Research Scientist (Soils), NSW Department of Primary Industries. Dr Chan was delivering a presentation to a group of landholders at Junee Reef, a four hour roadtrip we took on 21 June, 2007 to see if we could make contact with this legendary soil carbon expert. The Junee Reef Hall was full to capacity to hear the great man and have an update on an extraordinary program of soil tests involving hundreds of landholders across the Murrumbidgee Catchment.
Dr Chan has a research project which has stretched over 20 years, the only one of its kind. He has some startling conclusions. In the soils studied, he found that there was on average 70 tonnes of soil carbon per hectare under undisturbed native vegetation. This fell dramatically to 40 T/ha under conventional tillage by the 1940s. It rose 5T/ha under Reduced Tillage, to 45T/ha. Dr Chan believes we can recover the balance. He calls it the "Soil C Sequestration Potential".

How can we do it? Dr Chan provided some clues. There is a strong correlation between conservation tillage and higher soil carbon scores with traditional tillage/stubble burnt SOC scoring 1.5% vs no tillage/stubble retained 2.5%. In the bottom chart we have the results of 20 years' research. It measures the movement in soil carbon in kg/ha/year. From left to right, we have Wheat and Lupin rotation under Conventional Cultivation/Stubble Retained at 200kg/ha/yr lost vs No Till at only 5kg lost. When the stubble was burned in these cases the loss for Conventional Cultivation blows out to 280 kg/ha/yr and 150kg/ha/yr for No Tillage stubble burned. For Continuous Wheat under Conventional Cultivation losing the maximum amount recorded 419kg/ha/yr. The same combination but with added Nitrogen reduced the damage to 305kg/ha/yr. Best performing combination was Wheat/Clover rotation which shows that the introduction of a grazing phase turns the process around, with a 200kg/ha/yr increase in soil carbon where No Till/Stubble Retained is practiced. That's more than 0.6T/ha.yr. Where the land management strategy is Conventional Cultivation/Stubble Retained the loss is 80kg/ha/yr.

The amounts are small, but none of the techniques studied is as effective at creating carbon in soils as 'carbon farming' techniques. In these studies - them most advanced to date - there is no controlled grazing, no pasture cropping, no biological ameliorants to kick start the process, etc

But the lessons are important as the basics of soil carbon losses.

At the same meeting we met up with DPI Soil Physics Technical Officer, Albert Oates. He has been selected to lead the team for a study into the role of pastures in locking up carbon under a range of management practices. "Soils under permanent pasture might have the greatest potential to lock-up carbon dioxide as soil organic matter," he says. He is looking for farmers in central and southern NSW with paddocks with a known history. "Of particular interest would be paired paddocks, which allow comparisons to be made. Examples include cropped versus old perennial pasture, annual pasture vversus perennial and set-stocked versus rotationally grazed. If a farmer has a paddock likely to be of very high organic carbon status, that would also be of interest." The three-year project will be led by Dr Yin Chan with input from Soil Chemist Dr Mark Conyers, Modeller Dr Deli Liu, Research Agronomist Dr Guangdi Li, Soil Scientist Dr Brian Murphy of DNR and Mr Oates. A number of district NSW DPI agronomists and a technical officer, Ros Prangnell, are working on the project.
Contact: Dr Chan on (02) 4588 2108 and Mr Oates on (02) 6938 1874.

Second Soil C Science Summit Success

More than 60 delegates attended the Second Soil C Science Summit Success in Orange on 14th June, 2007. It was a joint effort by the Central West CMA, the Department for the Environment and Climate Change, and Carbon Farmers of Australia (the trading arm of the Carbon Coalition). Many of the presentations will be posted on the Carbon Coalition blogsite as soon as practicable. Farmers, soil scientists, agronomists, advisers and extension officers came from as far away as Armidale, Gunnedah, Goulburn and the Liverpool Plains to discuss soil carbon and measurement. Staff from four CMA's: Central West, Lachlan, Namoi, and Murray. Representatives from the Country Womens' Association, NSW Landcare and NSW Farmers' Association joined in.
Senior NSW soil scientists like Brian Murphy and Andrew Rawson anchored the day with presentations on soil carbon's simplicity and subtlety. The aim was to put us all on the same page so we can devise a method of measuring sequestration for the purposes of trading soil carbon credits to give farmers the incentive to encourage biodiversity.

CWCMA Soils Officer John Lawrie introduced Brian Murphy's new book on interpreting test results. (John went into raptures about Brian's useful book.) Brian and John were the organising committee for the Summit. The concept of the SUmmit is to expose scientists to practitioners and vice versa so we begin to understand the needs of both groups and the language we use so we can communicate better.

Local farmer and winner of the CWCMA FArming Systems Program Michael Inwood delivered a pithy presentation on the farm plan he submitted for the programs. He explained a combination of pasture cropping/advanced sowing and controlled grazing was giving him good results. His plan also calls for his property to start reducing its emissions - in one case, he plans to use an electirc vehicle for all on-farm work, including pulling the low tillage implements.

Soils office from the Lachland CMA Ian Packer delivered a lively production on "Quantifying the Obvious" in which he warned he would offend everyone in the room at some stage of his presentation. He made the point that farmers have to be more careful to keep records of paddock history, etc. so results of testing can be interpreted. On the left of Ian Packer in this photo is Terence Farrell who gave a comprehensive summation of Conservation Farming Carbon Trading in North America.

Merriwa conservation farmer Robert Goodear discusses the day's presentations with Namoi CMA's David Walker and CWCMA's John Laurie.

NSW Farmers' Susan McLeish explained her idea for a carbon bank or trading exchange which contained interesting aspects.(Her paper appears below.)

Proposal for the Development of a Carbon Trading Exchange
– Susan Ainge McLeish

I have left the assessment of carbon accounting to scientists but will address the necessity of the recognition of a scheme of carbon trading which will drive the adoption of both more sustainable farming systems and energy sectors within our State. If adopted I believe this will lead to not only more efficient but environmentally beneficial outcomes that will be driven by an exchange which is independent of governments and any lobby that might seek to influence outcomes to their own fiscal advantage.

Imperative to this process is a market which gives ample financial reward for better farm production practices and in turn passes these sequestration gains in measurable units through an exchange to emission industries as offsets. The incentive for creating such an exchange is the belief that it will drive the adoption of more environmentally sustainable farming and industry practices.

The proposal that I would put forward would recognise improvements in sequestration and conversely emissions by developing a system of quarterly carbon returns with an annual reconciliation return that would enable both farmers and industry to recognise the effect of their practices on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and by this measurement to improve their techniques. It is proposed that these returns would be submitted to an independently established Carbon Bank which would administer through a clearing house, payments for sequestration units and facilitate trade with emitters for their offsets.

The establishment of an independent Carbon Bank and Clearing house is essential to the development of a creditable carbon trading scheme in Australia. Whilst we can applaud Rio Tinto and the like purchasing large tracts of afforested land in an attempt to assuage its emission status, these ad hoc arrangements are not to be encouraged as they avoid accounting standards.

We should also avoid absolute accounting models which negate the essential nature of both energy and food production. World carbon exchanges already established in Europe and USA have made this concession. The proposal is that the market would recognise improvements in sequestration and conversely emission from a base position or industry standard and that there would be standards established and recognised for all industry types, not just fossil energy producers.

If implemented in its entirety, this proposal has the propensity to find favour with all affected industry sectors. Any deviation which seeks to impose greater imposts on any sector or to extract change without concession will be met with resistance. Climate change is now generally heeded and the inclination of every industry sector is to adopt measures to reduce their impact on the environment. An independent Carbon Bank which sought to reward these measures would accumulate respect and integrity from all sectors and encourage more sustainable farming and energy sectors within our state.

Carbon Coalition Comment:

There are many markets, types of buyers and motives for buying carbon credits. There is the Kyoto mandatory market, the non-Kyoto mandatory market (eg. NSW, CCX), and there are the voluntary markets which are proliferating, innovating, and evolving to meet emerging needs and niches. Some form of regulation will develop, but for now, "let a million flowers bloom". An EU-style, centralised, policed, and confined system, centrally controlled may be necessary for some markets but not others. As with every market, the expectations of the buyers will determine the form of the transaction.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Missing Sink! (We know what it is...)

Climate scientists have been puzzled by a strange phenomenon: the world is emitting 3GT CO2e more than it is officially sequestering. That 3GT (3 billion tonnes) has gone missing - and the World Bank says the missing load is getting bigger. Somehow it is being captured and stored by a "mystery sink" and the scientists don't know what it is.

Atmospheric increase 3.2 (±0.2) =
Emissions from fossil fuels 6.3 (±0.4) +
Net emissions from changes in land use 2.2 (±0.8) -
Oceanic uptake 2.4 (±0.7) -
Missing carbon sink 2.9 (±1.1)

They have tried a series of hypotheses: deforestation wasn't as bad as scientists originally declared it would be; the oceans are sequestering more than the scientists declared it would be; an unanticipated CO2 fertilising effect is making plants more effective as sinks; etc. Sedimentologists suggested that erosion was carrying soil organic carbon away and depositing it in creek beds where it is covered by sediments while new SOC is made by plants. Soil scientists (Rattan Lal) treat this suggestion as pure fantasy. Then there are the peat bogs in boreal forests in the northern hemisphere, which contain 10% of all carbon fixed on land, say the scientists, confidently in one breath, and in another: "How the bog stores carbon, in what quantity ... is completely unknown." In all these cases, science is clearly floundering. Several groups suggested the silent sequesterer is grazing soil. “Soil is where it’s at,” said Jeffrey Andrews of Duke University in Durham, N.C. at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in 1993. He reported that trees take large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and pump it into the ground. The Co2 eventually leaches into groundwater; this prevents it from quickly reentering the atmosphere. In 1994, scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) declared that soils under South American savannas were the missing sink. Deep-rooted grasses may remove as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere yearly, said Dr. Myles Fisher, CIAT ecophysiologist."Green plants are small factories that use carbon dioxide, or CO2, and sunlight to produce organic matter. The perennial grasses Andropogon gayanus and Brachiaria humidicola convert as much as 53 tons of CO2 per hectare yearly to organic matter," he said. The storage of organic matter was not noticed earlier because the extensive roots of these grasses deposit it as deep as a meter in the savanna soil, Fisher explains. A decade later Steven Wofsy, an atmospheric scientist at Harvard University, concluded grassland soils were part of the answer, alongside oceans and forests.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"I'm blown away by your energy and commitment. Your excitement is infectious..."

Dear Member,

A couple of days ago we received a cheque through the mail and a letter from a supporter who wrote: "I'm blown away by your energy and commitment. Your excitement is infectious and your research formidable..." It continued, "Thanks for soldiering on, on behalf of us all... You are providing such a wonderful public service in pulling all the carbon stuff together."

I was stunned. All the worrying about money through the drought and the mounting cost of continuing the campaign for recognition of soil carbon had been eroding my confidence. Would we be able to finish what we had begun? We can't continue like this. The bank manager agreed when he visited last week.

The sight of that cheque made me quite emotional. While I take as much off-farm work as I can get, the needs of the Carbon Coalition campaign - the documents, the research, the meetings, the speeches - make earning a conventional living impossible.

Why am I telling you this? It's been my choice. I am driven by the fear of leaving my two young grandsons to cope with climate crisis in a dangerous world. I am driven by the chance we have to bring farm landscapes back from the brink right across Australia. I am driven by the feeling that our community is disintegrating as the local economy declines and with it government services and things city people take for granted, like banking services. And the opportunity for restoring life in agricultural communities, funded by big city polluters via carbon credits.

A thunderclap went off in my head when that cheque fell out of the envelope. I realised that some people might value what we are doing... enough to help us pay for it. So, in the bush tradition, we're passing the hat around.

It's a bit embarrassing to be passing the hat for yourself, but the cause is more important than personal pride. If it comes back empty, that's OK. We'll soldier on anyway.

• You can send a cheque to the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming C/- MB & AL Kiely, “Uamby”, Uamby Road, GOOLMA NSW 2852

• You can use a credit card via the “Make a Donation” button on this blogsite ( and the website (

• You can engage the Coalition to provide speakers for seminars or to run workshops about carbon trading and agriculture. Call 02 6374 0329.

• You might know a corporate or philanthropic organisation we could apply to for financial support.

• You can buy Australian Farm Soil Credits from - a percentage of each sale goes to support the Coalition's work.

Thanks for your help.

Michael Kiely

PS.Below we list the ways your support will help.

PPS. Also below is a complete activity report on the Coalition's performance since February 2006.

The Carbon Coalition needs your help!

Soil carbon credits are now on the national agenda. The work of the Coalition is paying off. We have the support of the Federal Opposition. We are knocking on the door of the Federal Government. We finally have the ear of the Australian Greenhouse Office. We can't stop now.

The work of the Carbon Coalition during the past 18 months has been entirely funded by volunteers:

• lobbying,
• outreach,
• speaking engagements,
• website activity,
• blogging,
. publicity,
• research,
• overseas study tour,
• attending conferences,
• appearing before official enquiries…

We believe the mission of the Coalition is too important to wind down at this important point. The challenges we have coming up include:

1. Being fobbed off with Stewardship Payments instead of carbon credits.
2. Missing out on offsets when on-farm emissions are estimated and landholders are required to buy credits to offset CO2, methane, nitrous oxide etc.
3. Put an end to the myths about Australian soils and carbon.
4. Force the hand of the regulators by forming markets.
5. Promote Carbon Farming among business as usual growers.
6. Teaching landholders about the carbon trading markets.

We need your help…

We need your help to achieve the goals of the Coalition:

• Making the family farm more viable
• Strengthening rural communities
• Restoring the ecological health of farmland
• Reducing the extremes of Climate Change

What we need resources for…

• Scientific advice
• Scientific trials
• Website development
• Membership database system
• Publicity
• Management
• Lobbying
• Research
• Conferences
• Subscriptions
• Travel/Acc

NB. YOUR TAX DEDUCTION: While we cannot offer tax deductibility as a CHARITY, we can arrange a deduction for you by the following means: 1. You make your contribution. 2. The Coalition invoices you for CARBON ADVISORY SERVICES and your receipt can be used for deduction.

Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming
Activity Report
February 2006-June 2007

February, 2006 - Launched Carbon Coalition at Central West Conservation Farmers’ Association conference.

Established blog site – posted 127 reports in 365 days

Established web site – – collected 600 email contacts in 12 months

April, 2006 - Recruited Coalition Council members as advisory board: David Marsh, Rick Maurice, Col Seis, Angus Maurice.

Reguler press releases to national and rural media. Interviews with media.

April, 2006 - Gain support from Tim Flannery, Author, The Weather Makers

Add extensive “Library” of scientific papers and links to website and blogsite.

26 May, 2006 – Form alliance with Peter Andrews, Natural Sequence Farming

27 May, 2006 - Make presentation at Manning Landcare event, Gloucester NSW
2 June, 2006 - Brief NSW Farmers’ Association, Jock Laurie and David Ayrs, Sydney NSW

Write “Open Letter to Soil Scientists” for Australian Farm Journal

5 July, 2006 – Brief Central West delegation to NSW Farmers’ Association Conference, Wellington NSW

14 July, 2006 – Presentation for CWCMA at Mudgee Small Farm Field Day

19 July, 2006 – Make presentation to Baradine Landcare Group, Baradine, NSW

July, 2006 - Make presentation to Land Management Workshop, Cobar Field Day

15 August, 2006 - Brief National Farmers’ Federation, David Crombie and Dr Vanessa Findlay, Canberra ACT

2 September, 2006 – Make presentation to Gulgong Anglican Church Men’s Meeting, Gulgong NSW

USA 3 week fact finding mission
18/19 September: Washington DC – attend 2006 Global CO2 Cap-And-Trade Forum
21/22 September: Bozeman, Montana - Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership Phase 2 Project Management Plan Workshop
25 September: College Station, Texas - Professor Bruce McCarl, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University
27 September: Albuquerque, New Mexico - Peter Holter, Holistic Management International
28 September: Albuquerque, New Mexico - Southwest Carbon Sequestration Partnership Phase 2 Project Management Plan Workshop
29 September: Swanton, Vermont - Address Farmers' gathering organised by Coalition member Abe Collins from Vermont.
1 October: Columbus, Ohio - Professor Rattan Lal (or colleague), Ohio State University
3 October: Chicago, Illinois – Mike Walsh, SVP, Chicago Climate Exchange

Susan Capalbo, Director, Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.
Pamela Tomski is Associate Director responsible for outreach and education, Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.
Dave Brown, Technical Lead, Terrestrial Sequestration with Big Sky.
Michael Bowman, Director, 25:25, a movement that aims to have 25% of America's fuel needs supplied by farmers in 25 years.
Ted Dodge, Director, National Carbon Offsets Coalition which brokered the first carbon credits paid to US farmers In Montana and Kansas.
Professor Bruce McCarl of Texas A&M University, climate economist on the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
Dr Rattan Lal, author of a small library of books and papers, co-author of many others, Professor of Soil Physics at the School of Natural Resources at Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio.
Dr Klause Lorenz, Senior Research Fellow, the School of Natural Resources at Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio.

Launched Carbon Coalition in USA - Abe Collins, Carbon Farmer and Convenor, Swanton, Vermont.

Attended and addressed 2 day Phase 2 Workshop in Albuqurque, New Mexico of the Southwest Regional Partnership.
Met with Head of Partnership, Dr Brian McPherson, from the New Mexico Institute of Technology in Socorro.
Met with Dr Joel Brown and Dr Jay Angerer, the 'soil carbon sequestration' experts with the Southwest Partnership.
Met with Peter Holter, Holistic Management International.

Secured first order for 25,000 acres Australian soil (till to no till) from CCX.

23 October, 2006 – Make presentation to Kingaroy Carbon Forum, Kingaroy QLD

Submission to Commonwealth Minister for Environment, Sen. Ian Campbell via Parliamentary Secretary Greg Hunt, MP.

Coordinated 8-farm application for CWCMA Round 5 funding for carbon farming soil trials.

4 November, 2006 - Attended the “WALK AGAINST WARMING”, the International Day of Action on Climate Change on Saturday, Sydney NSW

4 November, 2006 - Briefed Federal Shadow Minister for Environment, Anthony Albanese MP

13 November, 2006 – meet with NSW President Soil Science Society re peer reviewed data for CCX and Summit of scientists and Practitioners

25 November, 2006 – Make presentation to Cobar/Nyngan Landcare group

11 December, 2006 – attend National Emissions Trading Summit, Sydney NSW

29 December, 2006 - Submissions (2) to National Emissions Trading Scheme Inquiry, Sydney NSW

Second Submission to Commonwealth Minister for Environment, Sen. Ian Campbell

22/23 November, 2006 - Speak at 2006 National Carbon Forum Canberra ACT

Organising Summit between Soil Scientists and Practitioners (March 2007)

Briefed Tony Windsor, MP, Canberra ACT (subsequently asks PM a question in Parliament)

13 December, 2006 - Briefed NSW Premier’s Advisory Panel on Climate Change, Sydney NSW

19 December, 2006 - Briefed NSW Farmers’ Asociation’s Jock Laurie. Subsequently calls for soil carbon credits.

Briefed NSW National Party MPs responsible for natural resources management election platform, Sydney NSW

Stand for NSW Legislative Council elections for Climate Change Coalition as soil carbon advocate.

Presented at Managing Under Changed Climactic Conditions Conference, Bathurst NSW

9 February, 2007 - Address South Australian No Till Farmers’ Association, Tanunda, SA

13 February, 2007 – Met with Peter Holter and Judy Earl, Holistic Management International

14 February, 2007 - Briefed NSW Department of Primary Industries Farm Management Climate Change Risk Management Steering Committee, Orange NSW

15 February, 2007 - Presentation to CAANZ, Wellington NSW

20 February, 2007 - Brief John Williams, NSW Commissioner Natural Resources, by telephone

5 March, 2007 - Address CWA Agriculture & Environment Seminar, CWA House, Potts Point NSW

6 March, 2007 - Campaigning as candidate for NSW Upper House election for the Climate Change Coalition; Erin Brockavich press event, Sydney NSW

7 March, 2007 - Conduct 4 hour workshop on carbon trading for RCS, Yeppoon, QLD

8 March, 2007 - Address soils gathering, CWCMA Dubbo, NSW

10 March, 2007 - Address landholders' gathering at Collarenabri, NSW

12 March, 2007 - Address Landcare meeting, Mudgee NSW

22 March, 2007 - First Soil Science Summit, meeting between landholders and scientists, Dubbo, NSW

24 March, 2007 - Election day - Campaigning as candidate for NSW Upper House election for the Climate Change Coalition

29/30 March, 2007 - Address Landcare Farming Forum, Grafton, NSW

2 April, 2007 - Teleconference with organisers of second soil science summit.

13 April, 2007 - Meeting with AGL Corporate Affairs Director, Sydney NSW

15 April, 2007 - Campaigning as candidate for Senate election for the Climate Change Coalition

25-27 April, 2007 - Addressing Southern Rivers CMA/Landcare Forum at Merimbula and Eden, NSW

28 April, 2007 - Meeting with representatives of Collarenabri, Mascot NSW

30 April, 2007 - Attend International Agrichar Initiative, Terrigal NSW

3 May, 2007 - Address DPI Climate Change Risk Management Forum, Tamworth NSW
3 May, 2007 - Address Double B Beef Marketing Group, Bingara, NSW

3 May, 2007 - Attend "Green Dollar" Conference, Canberra ACT

4 May, 2007 - Teleconference with organisers of second soil science summit.

9-10 May, 2007 - Business Council For Sustainable Energy Conference, Sydney NSW

15 May, 2007 - Meet with Judi Earl, Holistic Management International, Goolma NSW

17 May, 2007 - Address Landscape and Horticultural Engineers Conference, Sydney NSW

18 May, 2007 - Brief Richardson Properties on opportunities for investment in soil carbon projects, Sydney NSW

5 June, 2007 - Address DPI Climate Change Risk Management Forum, Dubbo NSW

5 June, 2007 - Brief Dr David Ugalde, Head of Agriculture and Greenhouse, Australian Greenhouse Office, Dubbo NSW

7 June, 2007 - Address NSW Farmers' Association Carbon Forum, Tamworth NSW

8 June, 2007 - Meet with Australian Trade Commissioner, Chicago, Tamworth NSW


There are many ways you can help:

• You can send a cheque to the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming C/- MB & AL Kiely, “Uamby”, Uamby Road, GOOLMA NSW 2852

• You will find a “Donate” button on this blogsite ( and the website (

• You can buy Australian Farm Soil Credits from

• You can engage the Coalition to provide speakers for seminars or to run workshops about carbon trading and agriculture. Call 02 6374 0329.

• You might know a corporate or philanthropic organisation we could apply to for financial support.

Your contribution is an investment in the greatest opportunity to address Climate Change and solve the problems of declining land health, declining economic health, and declining personal health in agriculture.

Thank you for being part of this historic movement...

Michael Kiely

PS. Please pass the hat around...

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Secret" Government Plan for Agriculture revealed

At last we have uncovered the Government's plan for tackling agriculture for greenhouse gas emissions while denying farmers access to the soil carbon they are capturing and storing. The following is an edited version of a paper prepared for the Commonwealth and State Governments. It was released in August 2006 without fanfare and the closing date for responses was 29 September, 2006. It has all the hallmarks of a 'secret report' posing as a consultation process. Note the absence of any reference to soil in the 'sinks' section at the end. The shape of their plan emerges from the fog.

Download the report from


“Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Australian Agriculture: The Role of Benchmarking in Driving Best Management Practice”

Discussion Paper from The Council of Australian Governments (CoAG), August 2006

The agricultural sector is estimated to account for about 16% of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2006) making it the second largest source of greenhouse emissions in the economy. To put this figure into international perspective, it is the second highest proportional contribution to national emissions (New Zealand being the highest), and substantially outweighs corresponding values in the EU (10%) and the USA (5.5%).

The Australian inventory uses accepted methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This means that the
emissions from energy, transport and land-use change associated with agriculture are reported elsewhere in the inventory. Consequently, when the total spectrum of emissions associated with the agricultural sector is taken into account (especially when viewed within a supply-chain context) the contribution of the agriculture sector to the total national emissions is considerably higher than that shown in the national inventory.

The intensity of greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced in two ways:
• Increasing output per unit of emissions, or
• Lowering emissions per unit of output.

This discussion paper proposes that either option is equally valid.

Benchmarking is a dynamic tool for continuous improvement… an on-going systematic process to search for and attain best practice. It provides a mechanism to move from current practice to best practice, and subsequently from best practice to better than best.

The approach taken in benchmarking is as follows:
1. Identify key performance indicator to be attained,
2. Compare current practice against recognised best practice,
3. Develop shared understanding of the nature and magnitude of the performance gap(s),
4. Design and implementation of changes necessary to move from current practice to best practice standards.
5. Monitoring performance and comparing expected and actual outcomes.

Environmental management systems have potential as a practical way to introduce emissions intensity benchmarking into Australian agriculture.
Environmental management systems are an integrated management system
a business can use to identify and manage its impacts on the environment and
improve production efficiencies. It provide a reliable method of documenting adoption of environmentally-sound practices. As a voluntary, flexible ‘systems approach’ it aims to achieve continual improvement in environmental, business and marketing performance.

Strategic Action Plans from Australian jurisdictions indicate a focus on five main sources of emissions from agriculture:
1. Nitrous oxide from nutrient and soil management of agricultural land
2. Methane from management of livestock
3. Carbon dioxide from energy use on farm
4. Emissions from livestock waste
5. Vegetation as carbon sinks.

Nitrous oxide from nutrient and soil management of agricultural land

Nitrous oxide from agricultural soils represents around 3.5% of Australia’s total emissions. Anywhere between 20% and 80% of nitrogen applied to the soils escapes without being taken up by the plant for growth and production (Peoples et al 2004). Nitrous oxide derives from two separate processes, known as nitrification and denitrification pathways, and the activities of these pathways in soils are highly dependent on soil conditions. In short, nitrous oxide emissions are reduced where waterlogging, compaction and anaerobiosis are reduced. In most cases these practices will be linked to
improvements in soil structure as well as better water infiltration and storage.

Management practice in nutrient and soil management has the potential to reduce emissions through:
1. Better fertiliser management:
• setting realistic yield goals based on the capacity and characteristic of the farm,
• improving the timing of application to maximise nutrient uptake by the plant,
• improving fertiliser application techniques to improve nutrient placement,
• improving water use in relation to fertiliser application.

2. Better soil management:
• ensuring continuous plant cover,
• managing and conserving soil structure,
• implementing practices such as stubble retention.

3. Other strategies
• Using of controlled release fertilisers, urease inhibitors and nitrification inhibitors.

Methane from Livestock

Methane from sheep and cattle is estimated to account for over 12% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of agricultural emissions (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 2006). It derives as a bi-product of feed digestion in the rumen, primarily breakdown of cellulose, in a process known as enteric fermentation. The emission of methane from livestock represents a direct loss of feed energy - between 7 and 10% of energy ingested by ruminant livestock escapes as methane. Hence, practices that limit methane emissions in most cases provide a boost to animal productivity.

Methane is primarily removed from the rumen through the mouth, while smaller proportions are either absorbed into the blood and released through the lungs, or are passed through the intestinal tract. The amount of methane produced during enteric fermentation is greatly influenced by management of animal nutrition, in particular:

• the level of feed intake (higher levels of intake generally result in the production of more methane),
• the biochemical pathways associated with rumen fermentation, and the composition of the microbial population of the rumen (in turn influenced by diet).

Management practices which have the potential to reduce emissions from livestock are:
• Improving nutrition and feed management by optimising feed intake levels, and the quality and digestibility of feed,
• Managing herds and flocks to reduce the number of unproductive animals,
• Improving animal genotype through targeted breeding,
• Improving animal health management,
• Rumen modification through feed additives,
• Vaccination of livestock to maintain health.

Carbon Dioxide from Energy use on Farm

In estimates to date through Greenhouse Challenge for Agriculture, carbon dioxide from energy and fuel use on farm range from about 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions (broadacre farms) to 45% (intensive irrigated farm with water pumping). Improving energy efficiency and using alternative fuels where possible are effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
and cut costs associated with electricity and fuel use.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy and fuel use on farm may be managed across a wide range of farm operations. As an aid to discussion, some possible options are mentioned.

Choice and use of farm machinery and equipment
• Matching machinery and equipment appropriately for the task,
• Identifying the main areas where energy is used, and developing a long-term plan to improve efficiency of equipment,
• Considering energy efficiency as a factor in selecting new equipment,
• Switching to alternative fuels with lower greenhouse emissions,
• Obtaining energy from renewable sources such as solar panels and bioenergy.

Farm design and construction
• Effective farm design and layout, including positioning of paddocks, fencelines, plantations, and road access points,
• Survey and design of paddocks to maximise operational efficiency and to accommodate controlled-traffic systems where appropriate,
• Maximising use of natural light and ventilation in farm buildings,
• Insulating buildings, storage and refrigeration devices, and heating and cooling pipes,
• Installing energy efficient lighting systems,
• Using light coloured, heat reflective paint on roofs and walls where appropriate.

Emissions from Livestock waste

Fifteen percent of all emissions from the livestock sector is attributable to management of livestock waste (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 2006). Of this, around 50% is from piggery waste, 30% from beef feedlots, and 20% from dairies. Both methane and nitrous oxide are emitted during the decomposition of organic matter from livestock waste, but when well managed manure and wasted feed are potentially useful inputs to the agricultural production systems. Emissions intensity benchmarking and best practice
guidelines in this area could consider both means to reduce waste, and means for employing better waste management strategies.

There are two types of decomposition of livestock waste, and each has different greenhouse gas consequences.
• Aerobic decomposition occurs in the presence of oxygen and is linked biochemically to microbial respiration. Aerobic conditions exist in actively composted manure stockpiles, dry aerated deep litter and in treatment ponds with light volatile solids loading, and ponds with mechanical aeration.
• Anaerobic decomposition occurs in conditions of low oxygen potentials, and involves breakdown pathways not linked to normal respiration. Anaerobic conditions exist in wet manure, compacted stockpiled manure, saturated deep litter, treatment ponds with heavy volatile solids loading, and anaerobic digesters.

Farm operations
• Developing and following a regular maintenance schedule for machinery and vehicles,
• Adopting minimum till and controlled traffic techniques in cropping operations,
• Improving the efficiency of fertiliser and chemical applications to help save on fuel consumption,
• Installing solar-powered water pumps in place of electric or diesel-powered models if possible,
• Improving the efficiency of irrigation practices

Best management practice to reduce emissions from livestock waste could focus on the following areas:

Feed Management
• Use of decision support tools such as AUSPIG, PIGBAL, DAIRYBAL and BEEFBAL to improve feed efficiency.
• Use of grain treatment processes that maximise digestibility and minimise the amount of organic matter in manure (e.g. steam flaking or grain tempering).
• For dairy cattle, use improved pastures and grain-based supplements to improve the digestibility of rations.

Feed Waste Reduction
• Design of feeding systems to maximise feed usage, and to reduce spillage and spoiling of feed (Feeding system designs for feedlots can be found in ‘Designing better feedlots’ manual, Watts and Tucker, 1994).
• Minimising wastage by monitoring feed areas to ensure feed is not supplied in excess of animal requirements.
• Monitoring weather conditions to avoid feeding immediately before rainfall events, as wet feed is more likely to spoil.
• Removing spoilt feed from the feed system and deposit it in the manure stockpile.

Manure Management
• Applying manure removed from pens or soil onto the surface of vegetated land areas if practical and operational considerations allow,
• Applying of nutrients based on an assessment of crop demands (as above),
• Using active composting instead of stockpiling practices,

Treatment and Storage ponds
• Dewater ponds by irrigation to crops or pastures to avoid overtopping and reduce anaerobic conditions,
• Ensuring solids that accumulate at the bottom of the pond as a by-product of anaerobic digestion are removed, to be stockpiled, actively composted or spread directly onto land.
• Investigating covering of anaerobic ponds for abatement of greenhouse gas emissions orentrapment and subsequent use of biogas for electricity generation.

Vegetation as Carbon sinks

Vegetation establishment and management on farms can provide productivity and environmental benefits. Revegetation and managing remnant vegetation for biodiversity purposes and benefits such as wind breaks and shelter for livestock can contribute to reducing overall on-farm emissions, by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

The capacity of vegetation ecosystems to sequester carbon is clearly influenced by management decisions as demonstrated, for instance, by:
• Species selection and site preparation during establishment for optimal survival and growth,
• Replanting in ways to ensure consistent cover,
• Protecting plantings from fire, pests and disease.

Where savannah burning is a necessary management practice, adopting planned approaches to burning and avoiding high intensity fires can optimise vegetation sink capacity.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chicago Climate Exchange still not convinced

We travelled to Tamworth on Thursday 7th to meet with Ian Smith, Australian Trade Commissioner to the USA, based in Chicago. He heads up Austrade's Agribusiness business in the USA. We first met Ian when we were on our self-funded soil carbon study tour of the USA last October. He introduced us to the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) which placed an order with us for 25,000 acres of till to no-till soil (which is traded on the CCX already). They also trade crop to pasture. The only specification was that we had to provide the CCX's preferred aggregator, the National Carbon Offset Coalition in Montana, with 'peer-reviewed data' which indicated the range of soil carbon scores likely to be achieved under a change from till-to-no-till in Australia. The Americans have a paper by Dr Rattan Lal, specifying a range of soil carbon increases identified in a number of peer-reviewed papers.

Australian farmers are not so fortunate. As reported in our last post, we have found a gap in the data sets used by the Australian Greenhouse Office to formulate policy and advice to governments. The vast majority of sites chosen for measurement, reported in Technical Reports 34 and 43 of the National Carbon Accounting Scheme program, appear to be business-as-usual, carbon-depleting, conventional farming situations. "Regenerative land management" was an alien concept at the time.

The scraps of data we have been able to provide have not satisfied the NCOC. We need data. We need funds to hire a scientist to search the literature for the data. (HELP!)

The night before our meeting with Ian Smith (whose brother Norm farms two properties away from us along the back road to Wellington) Daniel Kiely gave a presentation at a NSW Farmers' Association Carbon Seminar in Tamworth. We touched base with John Williams, Commissioner for Natural Resources who wants to help us to develop our official links with government.

We also heard a passionate speech from the floor by Peter Spencer, a landholder from Shannons Flat, near Cooma NSW. He is chief spokesperson for the farmers group seeking $10.5billion dmaages from the Commonwealth and State Governments for the carbon credits or compensation they should have received for being restrained from clearing "native vegetation" or "woody weeds", depending on who's doing the talking. The PM and his ministers have been claiming Australia will meet its Kyoto committments on the back of that forgone land clearing. As recently as last Wednesday night on ABCTV's 7.30 Report, Treasurer Peter Costello said these words: "This was all designed to stop land clearing and we stopped land clearing, and it's helped us to meet our Kyoto target. If I may say so, Australia actually did something practical... Australia is actually one of those countries that is on track and is on track because it actually did something quite positive, that is, stopped land clearing."

So the Federal Government has "nationalised" the carbon credits that would have been worth $5.5bn if traded on the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme.

Could it happen to us, too? Could the Commonwealth Government ever 'nationalise' the soil carbon Australian landholders are capturing and storing and use it to meet international agreements while at the same time dishonouring them?

Even worse: could we be called upon to pay for emissions (because the official science believes they exist) yet be denied the right to sell our soil carbon increases (because the official science denies they exist)?

While ever the official position is that agriculture is a negative activity for the environment, this will be the possibility. Until we prove agriculture can be regenerative and that high carbon scores correspond with healthy farm ecosystems, agriculture remains in the crosshairs.

PS. Dr Maarten Stapper, who is a great supporter of the cause of soil carbon, believes the reason why many no till croppers score low soil carbon increases is because they use nitrogenous fertilisers which 'burns up' the carbon.

PPS. A big THANK YOU to Jill Moore-Kashima for your message of support and your contribution. "Onwards!"

PPPS. Inspired by our need for funds to keep fighting the good fight for soil carbon credits, we will be passing the hat around soon. Pass it around...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

AGO: Agriculture is in the crosshairs

The most senior government official with responsibility for agriculture and greenhouse has confirmed the Carbon Coalition's predictions: agriculture will not escape the "cap" side of "cap and trade". We will be held to account for our emissions.

Agriculture is responsible for closer to 40% of Australia's emissions, not the 18% we have been led to believe, according to Dr David Ugalde, Director, Greenhouse and Agriculture, Australian Greenhouse Office. If ag-related emissions from transport and land use change are included, the total emissions footprint for agriculture climbs to between 35% and 38%, he told a DPI regional Greenhouse and Agriculture Forum at Dubbo yesterday (5 June).

Methane (CH4) makes up 13% of Australia's emissions on its own. This puts methane close to the total emissions of the transport industry. (Remember that fact.) Nitrogen emitted from fertiliser makes for another 5% of Australia's emissions. Add that figure to Methane and these two sources combined contribute more than Transport. (Remember that as well.)

But the Prime Minister's Task Force On Emissions Trading has decided to leave Agriculture out of any trading scheme because it is too difficult to measure. (Remember that.)(Sound familiar? That's the official reason we are given why soil carbon can't be traded.) But only for the first round. In the meantime,farmers will be encouraged to meet a Best Practice Benchmarking System which helps them either lower emission per unit of output or increase output per unit of emission. (Remember that, as well.)

The Benchmarking system will rely on self assessment. It is also structured to not affect productivity and profitability, with no increase in regulatory or financial burden. (Remember that, as well.)

Agriculture will continue to stay outside the trading system provided we are moving towards best practice.

Dr Ugalde also mentioned that, besides this system of emissions measurement, there were opportunities for offsets. (Here we sat up and paid attention.) But soils did not rate a mention when he spoke about sinks. However, he promised "research to improve our understanding of practical abatement opportunities."

It was this statement that prompted our question from the floor of the Forum: "The AGO has stated that 'Australian soils are not capable of sequestering significant amounts of carbon', a statement based on research done for the National Carbon Accounting System. Close inspection of Technical Reports 34 and 43 of the NCAS reveals the data sets are incomplete, focusing almost exclusively on conventional rather than regenerative land management techniques. Therefore, will the research to improve our understanding of practical abatement opportunities include studying the carbon sequestration capabilities of agricultural soils under regenerative land management techniques such as conservation farming, biological farming, holistic management, pasture cropping, etc.?"

Which prompted a non-commital answer, based around the assertion that Agriculture must go into this emissions trading system 'with eyes wide open'. In other words, the AGO has not been aware of regenerative farming and its soil carbon storage capacity because no one is. The research hasn't been done. Because no one has been prepared to stump up the money to do it.

Could the world community's secret weapon in the battle against global warming be disabled and unused because no one in authority cared enough to look?

Let's just revisit the brutal facts. Follow the logic:

FACT 1: The world's soils hold more CO2 naturally than all the CO2 in the atmosphere and all the CO2 held in the world's forests and vegetation on earth.

FACT 2: It would take 7 planets covered in forests to soak up the legacy load.

FACT 3: Soils actively farmed for carbon have the capacity (60% of the earth's landmass) to capture and store the entire legacy load.(There is no scientific proof that they can't.)

CONCLUSION: If you believe that climate change can destroy modern society as we know it, wouldn't you want to find out if soils can do what they claim they can do? Yet no government body we have approached wants to invest in the future.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Should agriculture be worried?

Australian Greenhouse Office, Department of the Environment and Water Resources, March 2007

The NFF and others have begun special pleading for agriculture to avoid inclusion in an emissions measurement and capping.
But how can we expect to be taken seriously as a source of abatement offsets (carbon credits) if we are not also called to account as a source of emissions?

The latest emissions figures from the AGO indicate that Agriculture, while a major emitter, has stabilised its emissions and the Land, Land Use and Forestry has headed back in the other direction. The latter is largely forestry and bans on vegetation clearing activities. (Where this involves forcing farmers to stand by while their productive land is invaded by woody weeds parading as 'native vegetation', with no compensation, it is to be condemned. Dirty coal and dirty energy companies stand to be rewarded with large concessions under the Task Force Report.)

In fact it is direct coal and dirty energy which is the main problem. The numbers speak for themselves.

The PM's Task Force on Emissions Trading recommended that Agriculture be left out of the emissions trading scheme due to "the lack of reliable measurement methodologies at the farm level and the complexity and cost of verifying emissions".

What have the AGO been doing for the past 11 years compiling the National Carbon Accounting Register? The old chestnut that soil carbon is difficult to measure is dead and buried. How can the AGO report the chart above if it can't measure emissions? It defies logic.

The Report continues: "The scope for new cost-effective regulation also appears to be limited. Land clearing – one of the key sources of emissions from the sector – has already been regulated in most states to achieve both improved natural resource management and greenhouse gas mitigation. There are few obvious additional regulatory options available." In other words, the farmers have already been belted. The Government is using the foregone clearing of vegetation as the basis for its boast that it will meet its Kyoto targets. The farmers involved were robbed of $10bn of carbon credits which the Federal Government cashed in. (The class action against the Government is covered extensively in

Agriculture will be further protected from divide and rule tactics, the report suggests, by treating different sectors of the industry equally. "Proposals to cover only a subset of agricultural activities with alternative price or regulatory measures (say because practical measurement issues are resolved earlier) need to be carefully considered, given the potential for economic distortions to be introduced between related activities in the sector (for example, between intensive and extensive livestock, or between livestock and cropping). On the other hand, different agricultural activities and products have very different carbon profiles."

Land holders will need to be in control of their sequestration capabilities to use as trade offs when the carbon cops come calling. "There may be capacity for significant abatement in response to policy measures. The agricultural sector should be engaged to develop realistic options," says the Report.

"The main focus for the agricultural sector at this stage in emissions trading is to increase its capacity to achieve low-cost abatement, initially via the provision of offsets. This suggests the research effort should be enhanced to develop greater understanding of practical abatement opportunities for the sector, and to improve enterprise measurement of agricultural emissions." Which could mean anything, but we prefer to read it as research into the carbon sequestering capacities of soils to fill the gaps in the data sets of the existing NCAS reports.

While this sounds good for agriculture, there could be a stong in the tail. "Announcing the intention to include agriculture within the scheme on a defined timetable would provide an important incentive for research and development activities and their piloting at farm level. Early results from such efforts (before application of a price signal) would produce returns to the sector in the form of greater opportunities for the sale of offsets into the sectors covered by an emissions trading scheme."

The incomplete knowledge of the emissions portfolio of agricultural activities is revealing. Note the failure to include the major source of emissions: plowing and burning stubble:

"• Agriculture emissions are methane and nitrous oxide emissions sourced from agricultural soils, manure management, rice cultivation and livestock.

"• Land use, land-use change and forestry emissions are the result of the burning of removed forest cover, the decay of unburnt vegetation, and emissions from soil disturbed in the process of land clearing. (These are offset to some extent by carbon sequestration due to regrowth of vegetation on previously cleared land.)"

On balance, then, agriculture faces what every other sector of the economy faces, sooner or later: not the end of the world, but the end of the world as we know it. Carbon Farming will be the dominant management style for the new Age of Carbon. (See

Questions for John Howard's Trading Report

These are the questions we believe should be asked of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Emissions Trading Report.

COMMITMENT? Would the Report exist at all if the Government had its way? Was the PM forced to commission the Report by public opinion which has run ahead of the Government on this issue? Is the Report a piece of political theatre, designed to help the Government squeak through at the coming Election? Given his way with words, it would take a wiley politician like Mr Howard less than a minute to find a way to call the whole process off after the election. (Eg. the economic analysis in 2008 finds the damage to the economy would be too great at any level of restraint.) The leisurely pace set by the proposal sees 2008 start on the detailed economic analysis to establish a long-term target, legislation by 2009, trials by 2010 and trading by 2012.

These questions arise:

If there is a sense of urgency, why did the Task Force take 3 months to come to such broad conclusions? Why not start the economic modelling immediately? In the 11 years the Government has been in power, has no modelling been done or has all policy to date been based on best guesses?

Why was the Task Force even considered necessary when there is little difference in most of the technical detail between a 200-page discussion paper on possible designs for a scheme delivered in August 2006 by the National Emissions Trading Taskforce set up by the Labor states and the Task Force's 200-page report released yesterday?

Why was the Task Force asked to repeat the exercise conducted eight years ago in 1999 by the Australian Greenhouse Office when the Howard Government commissioned it to deliver a report on an emissions trading scheme for Australia?

Given the above, can we trust the Government on Climate Change?

EXTREME OUTCOMES MORE LIKELY: The Report commits Australia to a global scenario of more than 2°C increase in average temperatures. In fact, the target is so soft that, were the rest of the world to follow Australia's example, the likely rise is around the cataclysmic 3°C-4°C. The lower level involves the loss of wildlife habitats like the Great Barrier Reef and the Polar Ice Caps. It also invites more cyclones, the relatives of Katrina and Larry. The drying of Australia will resolve a lot of speculation about the future of industires such as rice, cotton and mining. The inland could be depopulated. The upper levels of temperature rises involve large movements of refugees to places like Australia from low lying countries to our north (a scenario first depicted by the Pentagon in 2001) in numbers that our armed forces would find overwhelming. (Hence the Pentagon's scenario study: would the USA use military force against these civilians if Australia asked for help under the terms of the ANZUS Treaty?) Imagine a fleet of Tampas, junks, and fishing boats beaching themselves along our undefended coastline. Would our soldiers fire?

Does the Government prefer that we 'adapt' to these outcomes rather than pay higher prices for electricity and fuel?

ECONOMIC LOSSES GUARANTEED: Could the Report's reluctance to set a serious pace will certainly cause economic loss of the type it seeks to avoid? The insurance companies aren't celebrating the Report the way the coal miners and power companies are, because they are already in the grip of the climate change crisis. Actuaries know: the numbers don't lie like politicians. Major natural disasters have increased 300% in number since the 1960s, and 15-times in terms of insured losses (in real terms, adjusted for inflation). The majority of the worst catastrophes have been climate change related. Claims for storm and flood damages in the UK doubled over the period 1998–2003, compared to the previous five years. The results are rising insurance premiums, and the risk that in some areas insurance will become unaffordable. In the United States, insurance losses have also greatly increased.

The world's two largest insurance companies, Munich Re and Swiss Re, warned in a 2002 study that "the increasing frequency of severe climatic events, coupled with social trends" could cost almost US$150 billion each year in the next decade. These costs will hit voters in the hip pocket. The Stern Review by the former Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank Nicholas Stern predicted in October 2006 that economic growth could be cut by 20% unless drastic action is taken. Failure to invest 1% GDP in mitigaiton efforts could risk a recession whch could destroy up to 20% GDP, according to Stern. Such an even would be worse than the impact of the two world wars and the Great Depression.

THE CLIMATE CHANGE QUESTION: We live in an era which forces each individual to answer the Climate Change Question: "How should I live my life?" It is the ultimate ethical question. Beyond politics and ideology, Climate Change is a matter of morality for people in places of power and influence because they are making decisions that will affect the personal safety and quality of life of millions of people, most of them yet to be born.

"Am I my brother's keeper?" asked Cain. The English Common Law of Torts says I am. The Christian Faith says I am. Simple humanity says I am.

Climate sceptics have a right to their opinion, but do they have a right to equal access to the media, given their miniscule minority status and low level of qualifications compared to mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific opinion?

Polluting industries have a right to debate the issues, but do they have a right to fund the manipulation of public information of the type reported by ABC 4Corners program ("The Greenhouse Mafia"), the documentary "The Denial Machine" and, the recent book SCORCHER by Dr Clive Hamilton.

Governments with strong financial support from high emissions industries have a right to give them a fair hearing, but do they have a right to distort democratic processes to serve their interests? (See above sources. Note: Agriculture is a high emitter, but not a big source of financial support for the Government. It did not get a seat on the Task Force.)

ASK THE ACTUARIES: And for those sceptics who still think this is all a great hoax perpetrated by the environmental lobby to gain control of your lives, don't ask the scientists. Obviously you don't think they can be trusted. Instead, follow the money. Ask the actuaries. Call the chief actuaries at IAG, Swiss Re, Munich Re... Could they also be part of the Climate Change Conspiracy?

CORPORATE LEADERSHIP: Is now the time for companies to stand up and tell the Government that it must take Climate Change seriously? Corporations law makes directors liable to shareholders for losses incurred from events or conditions which were predictable and preventable. Every director of every public company is exposed. Every major corporation of significance - even Exxon Mobil which has been financing the professional sceptics until recent months - has acknowledged the danger and set out on the path towards carbon neutrality.

MEDIA ENGAGEMENT: Would the Government be able to stage this charade if we had an informed media? The outrageous lies ("Australia is at the forefront of this issue") told by the Government are swallowed whole by respected columnists. ("Regional agreements are the answer.") Global warming will not be solved by patchworks of regional agreements. It is a global problem and must be solved globally. The rest of the world has agreed to that. ("We will take the lead towards a new Kyoto.") Australia and America are lucky to be allowed to sit down at the table for Round 2. There is no respect for us there. Our intransigence is being used by China and India to dodge their responsibilities. ("Kyoto was flawed and a failure.") Kyoto 1 was trialling a new global market for a commodity few understood. Growing pains are not a sign of terminal illness.

Should the media always judge the Government's statements on Climate Change as being those made by climate sceptics?

These questions will be answered for us in time. Let's hope it's in time for us to do something about them.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

"Claytons Trading Scheme"

No target.
No price for carbon.
Wait 5 years to start.

The Report of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Emissions Trading is not a useful contribution to the war on global warming. Rather it reflects the wishes of the fossil fuel industries (who dominate the Task Force) and the climate sceptics in Cabinet (who dominate the Government's response on this issue). It also reveals the Government's strategy: Put it off and it might go away.

(We just had the hottest May in history.)

So much for Stern's, NASA's and the IPCC's 10 year window to take serious action. The Task Force wants us to spend 5 years 'getting the policy setting right'.

The PM said the wrong policy on carbon trading 'could do great damage to Australia' and he's right. This is the wrong policy and it will do great damage to Australia. But by 'Australia' the PM means the economy. His macro doesn't extend to the environment which hosts the economy. This 'hosting' relationship he does not understand.

With the exception of Malcolm Turnbull, the present leadership of the nation is unable to comprehend the nature of the challenge they face. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberland thought he had the measure of Hitler when he returned to England in 1938 waving a piece of paper and saying "Peace in our time."

God help us. This Report won't.