Sunday, July 06, 2008

Garnaut: Soil carbon must be in an emissions trading scheme

Soil carbon must be recognised if agriculture is to be part of an emissions trading scheme, Professor Ross Garnaut told Rural Press writer Lucy Skuthorp. He says soils have “considerable potential for sequestering carbon,” in his Draft Report on Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme. The amount of carbon which that could be stored in the soil "could be very big.
It's very important that the arrangements put in place give true credit for carbon that is in the soil," he said.
"That's one of the reasons we can't go quickly with agriculture is because we're still working out how to measure that." The science hasn’t kept pace with the politics. “Full inclusion of agriculture… in an emissions trading scheme will require issues to be resolved regarding measurement and monitoring of greenhouse gases.” The science of methane and nitrogen emissions is lagging, despite having Australia’s best emissions scientists such as Dr Richard Eckard dedicated to the task.
"Getting the measurement right, the administration right is crucial and a lot is going to be depending on that," he said.
"But my view is we shouldn't be moving to put agriculture in until we've got that right."
Professor Garnaut said we should forget Kyoto if the measurements in agriculture can be perfected.
"I think we can move ahead of the Kyoto rules," Professor Garnaut said. "If we think we can measure things right, we can go ahead, even if the international community doesn't recognise it.
"It will be some cost for us but I think we should do it.
"But we've got to get it right, and if we can get it right then that could be an example to the world."

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