Monday, December 15, 2008

The White Paper

Reasons to be cheerful: 1, 2, 3.

“Policy position 6.21 - The Government is disposed to include agriculture emissions in the Scheme by 2015. Commencing in 2009, the Government will undertake a work program in consultation with the agriculture industry to enable a decision in 2013 on coverage of agriculture emissions in 2015.”

2015 is 7 years away. 7 years. That’s all we have left of the 10 years Sir Nicholas Stern gave us to do something serious. And what have we done? We have had meetings and consultations and hundreds of submissions prepared and read and produced coloured papers with lots of writing in them, none of which will absorb one gram of CO2e from the atmosphere. The funny/absurd side of this white paper is that it spends the first 200 pages wringing its hands over how serious the problem is. Then it turns to an eccentric way of doing nothing much, except getting in the way of those who can do something.

Is the Rudd Government discriminating against white farmers, like Mugabe?

“The Government will facilitate the participation of Indigenous land managers in carbon
markets and will further investigate the potential for offsets from reductions in emissions
from savanna burning and will consult with Indigenous Australians on forestry opportunities.”

The biggest white lie in the White Paper

The following is plainly untrue and if this document is tabled in Parliament the Minister should be fired for misleading Parliament. “A shift towards less emissions-intensive activities, including farm forestry, is an intended consequence of the Scheme as it would reflect an efficient allocation of resources taking into account the carbon price. However, as noted above new forests are likely to be established on more marginal or less productive agricultural land and will not undermine food security.” Penny Wong’s Forests are occupying the best land in many places in Victoria and South Australia.

In Wonderland, things mean what you want them to mean

Ask yourself, as you read the following two paragraphs, how they can be so sure we as an industry emit 16% of the nation’s emissions, when they admit that it is too hard to measure farm emissions. If that 16% came up as a back-of-the-envelope estimation, I want to see that envelope.

STATEMENT ONE: Agriculture emissions consist mainly of methane and nitrous oxide from livestock and cropping and make up 16 per cent of Australia’s emissions. This is Australia’s second largest source of emissions.

STATEMENT TWO: Estimating agriculture emissions is complex. These emissions are highly variable in response to management practices and climatic conditions. For example, cattle breeds and feed types in tropical and subtropical regions differ from those in temperate regions, generating different amounts of methane. Nitrous oxide emissions from soils in major cereal-growing regions vary geographically and over time, according to rainfall, soil types and fertiliser application rates.”

Remember this:

“The Queensland Farmers’ Federation questioned whether the Carbon Pollution Reduction
Scheme was the best way to reduce carbon emissions in the farming sector. It called on the
Federal Government to consider more cost-effective alternatives such as accelerated uptake of
best management practices.” Here read ‘handcuffs’.

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