Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bad news for fans of CCX system

The state of play in the USA is hard to say... when it comes to soil C sequestration.
The conversations we had with the major American aggregators (Iowa Farm Bureau, North Dakota Farmers Union, National Carbon Offset Coalition) in November and December last year told us that the Chicago Climate Exchange model is losing support from both sides of the trade. Buyers say the offsets are not robust enough and sellers say the price is too low. CCX is working on revamping its system. There are some in the debate in Australia who think low enough is good enough, that farmers should not be given access to the full value of the carbon abatements they can create, and instead they should attempt to pay the cost of their emissions with the pittance a CCX-style system would pay or with the "Big Fat Nothing" that Jenny Wong's advisers say the farmers should get. Which is close to what they will get if hey are fobbed off with 'stewardship payments', the environmental movement's Trojan Horse.
Meanwhile, we hope the President-Elect knows about the fatal weakness of the low-value abatements as we hear this week that he moving on soil carbon sequestration under a review of credits for 'ecosystem services'.
A new U.S. Department of Agriculture office to assess the environmental benefits of agriculture and determine their value for carbon credit trading has been announced by Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. The Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets and a board to assist in the development of "technical guidelines for values" that they hope will promote markets for ecosystem services."
The Rudd Government could take a lesson from Barak Obama. “Our nation’s farms, ranches, and forests provide goods and services that are vital to society—natural assets we call ‘ecosystem services’,” Mr Schafer said. “The Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets will enable America’s agriculture producers to better compete, trade their services around the world, and make significant contributions to help improve the environment.” . The first ecosystem services to be examined will be carbon sequestration. The make up of the board doesn't fill us with confidence that they have the market 'smarts' to do the job. The board, chaired by the USDA secretary, will include the secretaries of Interior, Energy, Commerce, Transportation, and Defense; the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors; the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology; the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers.

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