Sunday, July 20, 2008

Green Paper starts to unravel

Soil Carbon (Australia)'s Tony Lovell has an eagle eye for anomaly in the Green Paper's treatment of soil:

"Take a look at the graph. The pale blue line is Australia’s emissions without article 3.4 activities (land use, land use change and forestry) included – the yellow line is Australia’s emissions with full article 3.4 activities included. The paragraph above the graph draws attention to the current risks in accounting for the variability of emissions from land systems and the impact that large variations in emissions would have on ongoing abatement incentives for farm businesses.

"BUT - What I find absolutely fascinating is that while the yellow line has more ups and downs (our old friend variability again), if you take a long term view of the yellow line the average emissions are LESS with full article 3.4 included. And this is in the complete absence of any incentives to change agricultural management to actually capture and store carbon. And the data covers the past decade which has been one of the most drought affected in our history.

"I rough the yellow emissions line to average just under 500 Mt CO2e while the pale blue emissions line is clearly averaging above the 500Mt line.

Based on the information clearly revealed by the graph itself can I suggest that the paragraph directly under the graph should read “There are huge and important opportunities to increase the carbon stored in Australia’s agricultural soils. However, the inadequate scientific research conducted in Australia so far has not even been done on land that has been managed under more appropriate carbon building practices. A significant practical research effort is needed to establish the best methods for increasing and retaining agricultural soil carbon in Australia. While it is acknowledged that there can be a significant loss of soil carbon in times of drought or under continuing inappropriate management practices, it must also be acknowledged that this soil carbon will be rapidly recovered after the drought ends, and even more quickly under appropriate carbon farming methods. Australia must commit to investigating all opportunities for improving soil carbon capture and retention.”

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