Monday, September 08, 2008

Soil carbon credits 'as soon as possible': Garnaut

"It's very important that, if we're not going to have the whole of agriculture in an Emissions Trading Scheme, long before that we've got proper credits for the increase in carbon in soils," says Professor Ross Garnaut. Asked by ABC Rural Radio on Friday 5 September to nominate when trading should begin, he said: "As soon as possible." As for the usual objections thrown up against soil carbon, he says: "I don't think it's impossible to measure either the carbon in soils - the increase in carbon - or the vegetation on properties. It is going to be much easier if groups of farmers within a region band together so that you reduce overall costs in that way. But in the end we're going to need to develop satellite imaging, remote sensing and other new tech ways of measuring these things so we can get the costs down." He says scientific work on measurement 'should be given very high priority'. "The opportunity in the Australian countryside is very large."

The founder of the Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme, Dr Christine Jones, praised Professor Ross Garnaut's call for carbon in soil to be included under an emissions trading scheme. She says Australia could be made carbon neutral if carbon stored in the soil in 2% of the nation's farmland was increased by 0.1%.

Interest in soil carbon has exploded recently, she told ABC Rural Radio: "I think there's been a huge change, even in just the last couple of weeks. It seems to be almost every day there's more and more interest. We have a group of Senators coming out to have a look next week from Canberra. The fact that at the highest political level we now have interest being shown by the Federal Government, that's a very, very positive step."

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