Wednesday, January 07, 2009


The Kyoto Rules are not fair for the farm sector, says Tony Burke. He is putting pressure on the Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong to instruct some of the highly intelligent people who lead her team to apply their minds to solving Agriculture's lose-lose situation. Contrary to received wisdom, Moses didn't bring the Kyoto Rules down from the Mountain. The most important words in the National Carbon Offset Standard Discussion Paper say it all: "ALL STANDARDS AND LEGISLATION ARE SUBJECT TO REVISION." Tony Burke appeals to the Kyotocrats to change the rules to 'match new science' that indicates that 'well-managed pastures should be recognised for their carbon storage ability.'
The Carbon Coalition has the following advice for lawmakers:
1. Soil carbon deserves 'special status' because it has unique characteristics and a unique role to play in the Climate Change response.
2. Only soil carbon has the capability, critical mass, and deployment to absorb a high proportion of the existing emissions or 'the Legacy Load" which is driving the erratic climate behaviour. Soil - via billions of hectares of photosynthetic processors (plants) - can operate on a 25 year rule for holding that carbon it has captured, largely due to uncertainty.
3. Permanence: The 100 year rule (all sinks must guarantee to hold carbon for a century) is clearly a fiction as the world would not plan a massive break out of GHG in precisely 100 years time. The 25 year period enables science to develop containment and/or cycling techniques for managing soil carbon, via technologies such as biochar.
4. Additonality (the rule that says anyone who has made the change to land management already is ruled out, anyone who has yet to make the change but is surrounded by land managers who have is ruled out, anyone who doesn't desparately need the money from credits is ruled out, anyone who has their land management changes funded or part funded by government agencies is ruled out, etc.) The reason why we want everyone treated equally well is because we need them all to be sequestering as much carbon as possible for as long as possible. When you want people to act quickly to change the habits of a lifetime and stick with it until it becomes second nature, you don't want to surround them with bitter and twisted naysayers.

The Greens don't like carbon credits for farmers, on the grounds that farmers shouldn't be paid for what they should be doing anyway. This dangerous moral supremist attitude signals ignorance of the true situation in agriculture.

Thanks to Tony Burke, sanity has a voice in cabinet.

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