Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Government nationalises soil carbon credits!

Peter Spencer was right. The Commonwealth Government wants to confiscate Australian farmers' soil carbon credits to meet its obligations - and that was the plan all along.

The following section from the Green Paper does one or all of these things:

1. It nationalises soil carbon credits by claiming them for the 'national abatement'.*
2. It claims the notion of offset credits is flawed, contrary to the views of the rest of the world.
3. It claims the baseline process, a Kyoto mechanism, is subjective and unworkable.
4. It forces Agriculture to wait until 2013 to start sequestering significant a mounts of CO2e while the DCC dawdles through its consideration of whether we should be covered or not.
5.It creates the absurd situation where Australian companies cannot buy farm soil credits from Australian farmers, but they can buy the from American farmers.

*The Justice in Monaro farmer Peter Spencer's last appearance in the Supreme Court declared that a carbon credit could be a property right. This means legal action could be possible.

The Green Paper says the following:

"The broad coverage proposed for the Carbon Pollution Trading Scheme creates limited scope for activities to create offset credits. Offset credits are rewards for reductions in emissions measured against an assumed baseline. Offset schemes are administratively complex and require considerable judgment to determine baselines—‘what would have happened in the absence of a particular decision’. Determining these baselines is inherently subjective, increasing the risk that schemes do not promote genuine abatement.
"Offsets also do not increase national abatement, as the provision of credits into an emissions trading system allows additional emissions in the covered sector.
Since the scheme already creates an incentive to reduce emissions in covered sectors, it makes sense for offsets to be considered only in uncovered sectors. However, if a sector may be covered in future—for example, if agriculture is to be included in the scheme in 2015—it makes little sense to develop offset methodologies and install the required administrative arrangements for such a short period, particularly given the questions raised above regarding baselines and the lack of additional abatement. "Accordingly, the Government is not proposing to establish an offset scheme for the agriculture sector prior to a final decision being made in consultation with the industry on final inclusion of agriculture in the proposed Carbon Pollution Trading Scheme (in 2013)."

The Australian Greenhouse Office might have been dissolved, but its spirit lives on in the continuing campaign it waged against the recognition of soil carbon offsets.

The Total Environment Centre recently released a position paper complaining that the Voluntary Market for Offsets is under threat. An industry group has been formed to take the issue up to the Government.

"For all the promise and positivity of Mr Rudd and Professor Garnaut, the DCC have simply written us out of the game with a collection of bogus claims and convoluted mumbojumbo," says Michael Kiely. It's arguments about bush fire and drought are thin and misleading, plaaying on the Prime Minister's fears.

"In this case we believe that government officials are acting against the national interest. There is enough dissatisfaction in the bush about the ETS to cause real problems for the Government, and the Senate is a problem for them."

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