Saturday, November 14, 2009

To Market, To Market

The following factors have become clear to us as we are recruiting farmers for baselining in preparation for measuring their soil carbon increases for the voluntary market that is soon to open and reports coming back from negotiations with buyers (big emitters) overseas and locally...

1. Ultimately only two parties will decide the shape of the voluntary market: buyers (emitters) and growers (sellers). If either party refuses to play, there is no game. The rest of us are spectators.
2. Growers will not get involved if the risks are too great (permanence), the costs too high (measurement), or the rules too strict (additionaiity).
3. Buyers will get involved if The Objective is to stall climate change for a period of 30-50 years while the world shifts from coal to renewables. Lal thinks it can be done.
4. To reach the Objective we need almost universal switching to carbon farming practices immediately.
5. The preferred method of incentive for change among growers is a market-based instrument (soil carbon offsets). There is no faith in government stewardship payments.
6. Issues of additionality, permanence, measurement, etc. are barriers to achieving the objective of universal grower involvement.
7. Issues like additionality, permanence, etc are decided by buyers and growers in these voluntary markets, not governments or brokers or wholesalers.
6. Kyoto was never meant to apply to Agriculture. The application of rules designed for industrial environments to Agriculture was an afterthought. The issue of food security and national and international security have left the Protocols behind.
9. The burning sense of urgency that is gripping the world community is tearing up the rule book. The market is frustrated by official dithering.
10. As Lal warned his colleagues: the train is leaving the station. (Soil & Tillage Research, 96, 2007) The unregulated voluntary market will become the defacto main market if the bar is set too high for Agriculture's involvement in a cap and trade system.

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