Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 - YEAR OF CARBON CREDITS FOR FARMERS

THE YEAR 2011 will be remembered as the Year of the Carbon Farmer. The Minister Greg Combet will release the draft legislation for comment this week (first week of January) and we have until January 20 to comment. The Bill will be submitted to Parliament sometime in February so it can be proclaimed in time for the market to start on 1 July, 2011.
Here's how it will work: The Legislation lays down broad guidelines. Private individuals and companies can then submit 'meths' (which is industry-speak for 'methodologies'). A methodology is a collection of solutions that make it possible to generate offsets for one of a list of 11 on-farm activities. The solutions solve the challenges entitled Additionality, Permanence, Leakage, Measurement, etc. The 'meths' are considered by the DOIC (the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee - already selected) which recommends to the Minister which can proceed to recruit farmers wanting to get involved in offsets trading.
The Government has allowed for flexibility by allowing for Kyoto- and Non-Kyoto-international units, compliance and voluntary units, Australian carbon credit units... there will be a range of options to suit a range of needs. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No bargain basement carbon will work

No cheap carbon

Michael Fraser, the managing director of AGL, has said his company will not start making investments in lower-carbon energy if the carbon price is below $30 per tonne… There is a minimum carbon price below which no real improvements in the carbon efficiency of the economy occurs, writes Michael Molitor, Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW, in the Climate Spectator.

"If our policy leads to a low carbon price, driven, in part, by high levels of compensation to big polluters, then the liable entities will make no real investments in de-carbonisation. They will pay the price of buying the few carbon instruments they will require to achieve compliance and make every attempt to pass on these costs to their customers. A low carbon price with high levels of compensation is, ironically, exactly what Tony Abbott called it, “a great big tax”. The result is our worst case scenario: Increased costs to consumers, and the economy in general, with no resulting carbon efficiency benefit.

"The other problem with a low carbon price is that the amount of capital required to de-carbonise our economy is tens of billions of dollars per year. The only way to move this much capital is to make it sufficiently attractive for the big financial players to enter the game. A low carbon price with a limited number of carbon instruments trading (due to the large allocation of free carbon permits as the principal form of compensation) fails to create the large liquid market conditions that attract the major financial players into the game…

"Finally, a higher carbon price will result in larger revenues to the federal Treasury. Instead of providing compensation to big polluters for the losses in the value of their high carbon-emitting assets, it would be economically preferable to use the carbon revenue to provide these companies with the capital to invest in lower-carbon emitting assets. In most cases these lower-carbon emitting assets are much more efficient and will actually save companies money."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Look what Santa brought us: Carbon Credits legislation

Who would have thought 5 short years ago we'd be spending the holiday break working through the proposed legislation for making the dream of soil carbon credits a reality. The Minister Greg Combet has his foot to the floor on the Carbon Farming Initiative. He is releasing the Legislation in the first week of January. We were delivered a preview version on Christmas Eve. The 300-page document would have taken several months to draft, evidence that the Government is serious.
Information on making a submission can be found on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficieny's website, click here. To see our paper on the Consultation Paper released by the Department, click here. To see a paper on Perverse Outcomes from Additionality, click here.
We have three critical 'bellwether' issues: Additionality, Permanence and Measurement. Each is capable of delaying the introduction of soil carbon offsets - and even threatening its emergence at all - because these Kyoto principles were devised for factories and forests but not farms.
ADDITIONALITY means that, if the change in land management has already been made or would have been made for business reasons* or becomes common practice in the district, it cannot earn credits because the abatement does not reduce emissions or sequester greenhouse gases any more than if the scheme was not in operation. (*Business reasons can include higher productivity or profitability.)
PERMANENCE is not defined in the Bill. That task is left to the designers of methodologies which will be submitted to the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee. But there is provision for a 5% "risk of reversal buffer" - this means that 5% of all units submitted by a grower are banked as insurance against losses. Growers could also be asked to "relinquish'' units (ie. repay the money if there is reversal of sequestration). Growers are also subject to Carbon Maintenance Obligations and can be handed a Carbon Restoration Order. Reversal can included losses caused by natural means (drought, fire, etc). The important word in this section on Permanence is "may" in that "The Administrator may... require the project proponent to relinquish a specified number.." Growers who choose to be 'aggregated' into pools can avoid this liability (where the loss of carbon is not intentional) in programs which include their own buffer, such as the Prime Carbon system.
MEASUREMENT is also not specified in the Bill, but emissions, removals and reductions "should be measurable and capable of being verified." Hints are given, such as "a method... should not be inconsistent with the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory". It should also be "consistent with relevant scientific results published in peer review literature." Here we have major problems: 1. If consistency with NGGI means using the method described in Neil McKenzie, CSIRO Land and Water, National Carbon Accounting System, Technical Report No. 14, September 2000, the cost of measurement would make the trade difficult to justify. 2. If peer review data is to set the benchmark for rates of sequestration, the viability of the trade is further endangered because of the widely-accepted phenomenon of "scientific lag" - ie. that Science lags Practice when it comes to reproducing the results achieved in the field by grassroots innovations such as the main techniques used for sequestering carbon in soil. Peer reviewed data is code for 15 years delay while a practice passes through consecutive 3-year trials (+ 2 years for finding funding at the beginning of the cycle and publishing at the end of the cycle.) The Gap between Science and Practice can become institutionalised by the Norton Effect. Professor Ben Norton told a WA Department of Food and Agriculture workshop in 2002, that the majority of published research studies of rotational grazing find that continuous grazing is better than or comparable to rotational grazing in terms of either animal or plant production. Yet “Hundreds of graziers on three continents claim that their livestock production has increased by half or doubled or even tripled following the implementation of rotational grazing…” In the McClymont Lecture in 1998 he said: Science, based on 'hundreds of studies' concluded that planned grazing is not cost effective. (Norton, BE., "The application of grazing management to increase sustainable livestock production," Animal Production In Australia, Vol. 22 1998).
There is one escape hatch from the dead hand of peer review: The Minister. Section 124 (2) says that, if a method is the same as one determined under Subsection 10 (3) of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007, it is taken to be "consistent with relevant scientific results published in peer reviewed literature." Ss 10 (3) says that the Minister "may determine methods by which the amounts of ... removals ... are to be measured." And the Minister "may specify different methods or criteria for different industry sectors and ... different methods or criteria depending on the circumstances in which the ... removals... occurred." If Minister Combet wants Soil Carbon Sequestration any time in the next two decades - precisely the time when it can play its most important role - he has to bite the bullet on peer reviewed data.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Signs look good for Agriculture post Cancun

Here are all the reasons why soil carbon offsets are now inevitable after Cancun:
1.The GIgatonne Gap: The pledges made are insufficient to cap global warming at 2 °C. Researchers say the pledges set the world on track for 3.2 °C warming.
2. IPCC getting desperate: The Chairman of the IPCC said that the world will have to take a serious look at geoengineering solutions, such as floating thousands of giant mirrors in space to deflect sunlight or dumping millions of tonnes of fertilizer or iron filings into the ocean to grow algae and sequester CO2.
3. Americans intransigent: President Bush said the American Way of Life is sacred. President Obama could not get cap and trade legislation through when he controlled both houses of Congress. It’s hard to see a day in the near future when the world will be prepared to set aggressive emissions targets.
4. World Bank gets it: The big end of town has noticed Agriculture and has discovered “Climate smart agriculture” or practical solutions for triple wins (co-benefits): adaptation, mitigation and food security. While its attention is on poor nations, the trading opportunities it is exploring would flow to farmers everywhere, based on equity.
5. Kyoto Protocols in danger: The US wants a new Kyoto based on the Copenhagen Accord, a much gentler regime.
Add to these developments the collapse of Britain’s largest Carbon Capture & Storage project into bankruptsy, and all indications point to good times ahead for Soil Carbon Credits.

Monday, December 13, 2010

WikiLeaks: Kyoto Protocols to be abolished?

Agreement. Accord. Protocol. What’s the difference and why does it matter? Firstly, there is a difference. An Accord is not a Protocol. And secondly, signing up to one commits you to a lot more than signing up to another. Like the difference between an ‘engagement’ and a ‘marriage’, words can make all the difference.
In the world of Climate Change diplomacy, there are four types of ‘agreements’: a “Convention”, “Protocols”, an “Accord”, and an “Agreement”. It started in 1988 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was first established to look into the problem. A large number of scientific reports sounded the alarm and in 1992 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This “Framework Convention” is an international environmental agreement aimed at stabilising Greenhouse Gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous man-made interference with the climate system. The convention is a legal framework, not an operational treaty. The legally binding document is the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997. To date 191 countries have signed and ratified it. Under the Protocols, 34 developed countries agree to bring down their emissions of gasses by certain amounts by certain times. The rest of the countries have no targets, based on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." The parties agreed that:
1. the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases originated in developed countries;
2. per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low;
3. the share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet social and development needs.
The US has never ratified Kyoto. (Up until recently it was the world’s biggest emitter. China now has that honour.) The large emerging economies, China, India, and Brazil, have no obligations under the protocol. The nations gathered at Copenhagen in 2009 hoping they could get the big emitters to agree to set emissions reductions targets and be bound by them under the Protocols. The talks collapsed and from out of the wreckage a small group of nations – including America, China, and India – produced what they called an “Accord”, which is not legally binding. Nations signing the Accord pledge to meet targets and report on their progress voluntarily. But there was to be no legal obligation and no external auditing. We now know, thanks to Wikileaks, that America and China colluded together to ensure the talks failed because neither wants to be committed to targets under the Protocols. The delegates at Copenhagen did not ratify the Accord; they merely ‘noted’ it. Many were angry that the big emitters made their own arrangement and called it an “Accord”. However, to date, more than 100 nations have signed on, representing 80% of global emissions.
Which leads us to the Cancun “Agreement”. It contains much that was in the Accord, but this time the delegates have voted for it. The Cancun Agreement is important because for the first time the world’s 2 biggest emitters – China and USA - have committed to emissions targets. And for the first time the Agreement includes pledges from developing nations, who had no obligations under the Kyoto protocol. The Agreement formalises the pledges made in the aftermath of last year's failed Copenhagen talks. Crucially it did not tie developed nations to legally binding emissions cuts after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. Russia and Japan would not accept new targets under the protocol. They claimed it was unfair if other major polluters such as China and the US did not accept such targets.
Which means what? It means realpolitik will always decide international affairs. The big emitters are also the big economies and the big military powers. As they say, when the elephants dance the ants get off the dance floor. No amount of moral rectitude and finger wagging by Tuvalu or Friends of The Trees was ever going to bring the US to heel. Kyoto was impossible when Obama controlled numbers in Congress. Now it is even less likely. To get the Cacun Agreement signed, a decision on extending Kyoto after the 2nd compliance period runs out in 2012 was put off until 2011. Given America’s attitude, it doesn’t look good for the Protocols.
America’s chief climate envoy Todd Stern said several time before Cancun that his country will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The Obama Administration wanted the Copenhagen Accord to guide talks on a new treaty and urged further formalization of the Accord at Cancun – which is exactly what happened. Next year’s meeting in South Africa could see a new Protocol to substitute Kyoto, having the Copenhagen Accord as a starting point, according to Sergio Abranches, ecoblogger.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

CSIRO’s final assault on soil carbon credits?

From the people who brought you the anti-soil carbon trading “Mythbusters”, The Hidden Cost of Humus illusion, and The Bucket Theory, the CSIRO has signalled that it will try to strangle the infant soil carbon offset in its cradle, using ‘robust science’ as the cord. In a paid editorial feature in The Land (2/12/2010).
Far from an enabling attitude, the article puts the emphasis not on the opportunity for the farmer but on ‘ensuring the highest standards of environmental integrity for any carbon offset on offer.’ Hard to argue with that Motherhood statement, but it is code for setting the bar so high that soils won’t get over.
For example, “The science needs to address soil carbon variations across paddocks, soils, and regions, as well as with seasons and climate.” To develop a system that can accommodate such complexity will take more than 5 years and be cost prohibitive when it arrives.
Finally, some good old fashioned CSIRO scare tactics: “So, for soil carbon, we need the best available tested science to avoid the situation where our children have to pay off a debt in the future, because we overstated the carbon benefit today,” says Dr Michael Battaglia. This is to make sure that if the soil carbon offsets make it through the maze, no farmer will take them up for fear of the ogres created by CSIR scientists. The CSIRO allows its scientists to comment widely outside their field of expertise, straying freely into economics and market dynamics with no expertise to support their statements. No one is suggesting that any market mechanism penalise a farmer’s children.
Why is the CSIRO so fixated on stopping soil carbon? A couple of papers from 2009 could hold a clue. Could it be that CSIRO has an ideological attitude to environmental markets?
Dr Clive Splash, an environmental economist, wrote this about offsets markets: ”The potential for manipulation to achieve financial gain, while showing little regard for environmental or social consequences, is evident as markets have extended internationally and via trading offsets. At the individual level, there is the potential for emissions trading to have undesirable ethical and psychological impacts and to crowd out voluntary action.” Dr Roger Gifford, a rangeland scientist, wrote: “…market-based C-trading schemes involving pastures [will] expose [farmers] to the risks of complicated, ill-conceived, ill-understood, poorly regulated financial instruments and arrangements that are replete with opportunity for fraudulent scams and inappropriate diversion of community wealth to the personal fortunes of scheme managers and traders, while not delivering the scheme objectives, reminiscent of those involved in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009.”

Clearly CSIRO could not be seen to promote ethically undesirable activities.

1. “Putting the science into carbon offsets”, CSIRO advertorial, The Land 2 December, 2010
2. Clive L. Splash, The Brave New World of Carbon Trading, Munich Personal RePEc Archive, December 2009
3. Roger M. Gifford, CSIRO Plant Industry, “Carbon sequestration in Australian Grasslands: Policy and Technical Issues”, Proceedings of FAO workshop on The role of grassland carbon sequestration in the mitigation of climate change, Rome, 15-17 April 2009

Thursday, December 09, 2010

What's in the Carbon Farming Initiative for you?

The Commonwealth Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) aims to give farmers, landholders and forest owners access to domestic and international carbon markets. There are many opportunities for farmers and landholders in the CFI. They can earn offsets from a long list of activities, including:

• reforestation and revegetation – eg. plantations, integrated farm forestry and regrowth;
• reduced methane emissions from livestock – eg. diet management, rumen inoculants, etc.;
• reduced fertiliser emissions – eg. precision application, alternative fertilizers, etc.;
• manure management – eg. composting, anaerobic digesters and methane flaring;
• reduced emissions and/or increased sequestration in agricultural soils (soil carbon) – eg. no-till cultivation, grazing management, pasture cropping, nutrient management;
• savanna fire management –eg. avoiding large destructive fires while retaining environmentally-positive use of fire;
• avoided deforestation – eg. reduced land clearing;
• burning of stubble/crop residue - eg. stubble retention/incorporated, etc.;
• reduced emissions from rice cultivation – eg. reducing water levels in paddies to reduce methane emissions;
• reduced emissions from landfill waste – eg. composting, applying compost on soils.

Carbon Farmers of Australia recommend that Farmers decide which of the activities on this list are relevant to them and take a portfolio approach to them: Revenue from offsets will be maximized and opportunities won’t be missed. A typical ‘portfolio’ of activities could include fertilizer reduction/substitution + reduced methane from livestock + reduced landfill/farm composting + soil carbon sequestration.
While the scheme is scheduled to start on 1 July, 2011, not all the options will be ready. The forestry options were trading prior to the CFI and so will start early. Other ‘low hanging fruit’ includes reduced fertilizer usage and manure management/landfill waste. The others will come on stream as they have “Methodologies” approved.
Farmers and landholders have three options:
1. Running a project of their own, gaining the approvals and reporting on their progress.
2. Hiring a specialist to manage the reporting and administration.
3. Allow an offset aggregator to include their activity with others for trading.
Example: Farmer A chooses to undertake a project to reduce fertiliser use on the farm. Finds the relevant CFI methodology, applies to the CFI Scheme Administrator to become a recognised offsets provider and has their project approved. The farmer reduces fertiliser use (by precision application or biofertiliser substitution or other method). Each year the farmer completes a report, has it audited, then submits it to the Administrator. Credits are issued into the farmer’s account in the Offsets Registry. These are then able to be sold via a broker. The farmer can appoint an agent to handle all the adminstration. Or they can join other farmers as part of a ‘aggregation’ or pool.

No Get Rich Quick Scheme
The CFI is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Instead it is an incentive program that aims to help land managers make the shift to lower emissions practices.
The Carbon Farming Initiative first saw daylight as an election promise - which could make it a fragile prospect for ever being delivered. But when seen in context, it is a sure thing (as sure as anything can be in a 'balanced Parliament' environment)... When the CPRS was defeated, Australian consumers and corporates wanting to 'abate' their emissions were offered the voluntary market in the form of the National Carbon Offset Standard. It covers all offsets not covered in Australia's Kyoto commitment - which is mainly farm carbon offsets. Alas, forestry is covered by our Kyoto commitment and its promoters were looking forward to a bonanza under the CPRS. Instead they had the floor fall away from underneath them and the forests ceased marching across the countryside. The CFI plugs that gap for forests because it applies to both Kyoto and non-Kyoto offsets. So the CFI and the NCOS fit together.

CFI… NCOS… CPRS… ETS…?
What is the difference between the CFI and NCOS and CPRS and ETS? It's simple: The CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) was a proposal by the Rudd Government for a "Compliance"-based "Cap & Trade" market for emissions offsets. That is an ETS or Emissions Trading Scheme. "Compliance" means 'compulsory'. "Cap & Trade" means emitters must change their business practices to reduce their emissions to reach a target level or 'cap'.. If they cannot reach that target in the timeframe given (called a Compliance Period, eg. 2008-2012) they must purchase 'offsets' or 'permits' from emitters who exceeded their targets and earned credits by doing so, or from companies earning credits by generating renewable energy or from companies earning credits by sequestering or capturing and holding CO2 in forests. Under the Rudd CPRS scheme only 1000 companies were required to meet a target in each compliance period. They were the 1000 top emitters. They could purchase offsets from local or international companies. The NCOS (National Carbon Offset Standard) was designed to operate alongside the CPRS 'compliance' market by providing a "Voluntary" scheme. It makes available to Australian companies and consumers a source of Australian offsets that they can purchase to offset their emissions so that they can make an advertising claim that their products etc. are carbon neutral or simply to make contribution to the climate change effort by offsetting a family's emissions. The NCOS covers only domestic offsets offered to voluntary buyers. The Carbon Farming Initiative completes the set. It covers domestic and international markets, both compliance and voluntary. The only market not covered is the market that is yet to start: the CPRS or the national domestic compliance market.

Who are the buyers?
Demand for CFI credits is expected to come from foreign governments seeking to meet their Kyoto obligations, as well as companies overseas seeking to meet their obligations under national or regional schemes, such as the EU Emission Trading Scheme. CFI credits could also be attractive to companies operating in markets dominated by the voluntary market, such as Australia's traditional trade partner Japan. One important category of buyers not mentioned in the Consultation Paper are consumers overseas who are fans of the country and have a soft spot for Aussie farmers. Back at home, some companies need offsets to meet obligations where State Governments have introduced their own compliance schemes.

Methodologies: Make Your Own
A “Methodology” is a step-by-step plan for helping farmers earn offsets. There is no limit to the number of Methodologies, because the Carbon Market is a free enterprise system. Individuals are free to trade with each other, so long as they don’t break the law. The Government is developing methodologies, with the help of industry. Private project developers can also design their own.
A Methodology has the following parts:
1. A description of the activities that will either avoid emissions or capture greenhouse gasses. The carbon sinks and carbon sources touched Eg. soil, livestock.
2. How the baseline (starting point) and amounts of Greenhouse Gases removed or avoided.
3. How buyers can be reassured that the activities in one location don’t create more emissions somewhere else.
4. How the performance of the program will be measured.
5. How the project will be monitored.
The decision to approve a Methodology is taken by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on the advice of the members of the Domestic Offset Integrity Committee - an independent expert panel appointed by the Government.

Integrity Standards Under Review
The Carbon Farming Initiative Consultation is just that: a Consultation. Your input is requested. The paper includes “Integrity Standards”. They are a list of ‘rules’ that are proposed to give buyers confidence that the abatement offsets they are buying aren’t just smoke and mirrors – that they are real. These rules include:

Additional - the emissions saved or extracted would not have happened without the offset, but are genuinely additional to other efforts.
Permanence – the emissions saved or extracted are not released for the period of the active life of the particular Greenhouse Gasses, eg. CO2 – 100 years
Leakage – the project does not create increases in emissions somewhere else that cancels out the inititial saving.
Measurable and verifiable – all activity must be accurately measured or estimated; each offset credit must stand for one tonne of CO2-e; auditing must be independent.
Conservative – assumptions, figures, and measurement must be conservative to avoid over-claiming.
Internationally consistent – methodologies and reporting practices aligned with those adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Supported by peer-review science – scientific evidence submitted must be ‘peer-reviewed’ which means it has been approved by other scientists in the same field as those doing the research and that it has been accepted for publication in a scientific journal.

Integrity Standards Vs The Urgency
The Integrity Standards focus on making the transaction possible by making sure the consumer is confident that they are getting what they paid for. No confidence, no market, no abatement, no sequestration of CO2. It’s as simple as that… when you look down on end of the telescope and all you can see is the transaction.
Turn the telescope around and you see the global impact of 6 million farmers changing their practices to begin drawing down billions of tonnes of CO2. Some of the world’s leading scientists say that we need as many farmers as possible sequestering as much carbon as possible in their soils and vegetation as quickly as possible because there is little chance that global warming can be held to a increase of less than 2°C without it. They are saying that the rate at which clean energy infrastructure can be built compared to the rate at which global demand for energy will grow make it now impossible to meet the 2°C target without a big soil carbon component.
Scientists, including the world’s most famous Climate Change scientist, NASA’s James Hansen, agree that renewables will not be ready to supply the world’s energy demands for up to 50 years, if then. In Smart Solutions to Climate Change, Chris Green of McGill University and Isabel Galiana look at current rates of progress and conclude that by 2050 alternative energy sources will produce less than half the power needed to stabilise carbon emissions. By 2100, the gap would be even wider.
Australian scientists point to soil carbon as the solution: “It will be next to impossible for Australia to achieve the scale of [emissions] reductions required in sufficient time to avoid dangerous climate change unless we also remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in vegetation and soils,” the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists told the recent Victorian Inquiry into Soil Carbon. Even the CSIRO agrees Dr Michael Battaglia, Theme Leader, Sustainable Agriculture Flagship, CSIRO told the inquiry: “What [soil carbon sequestration] actually gives us is time to make those adjustments [transition from burning coal].”
Emissions reductions won’t slow down the process of climate change because they are your Grandfather’s emissions - the carbon released into the atmosphere 70 years ago - that are causing Global Warming. Luckily, we have the only process for Extracting billions of tonnes of CO2 every year for 50 years, fully deployed and scaled up, ready to start: Photosynthesis, in the form of 5.5bn hectares of farmland around the globe. Scientists such as soil carbon authority Professor Rattan Lal estimate the process can remove 3billion tonnes of CO2 annually for 50 years. He testified before the US Senate that soil carbon can be a “bridge to the future” that “buys us time”.
James Hansen and Rattan Lal agree that the world’s farmers can draw down the CO2 equivalent of 50ppm and hold it for 50 years. With the globe racing towards 400ppm, hoping to stop it at 450ppm (to hold the increase to 2°C), soil sequestration is attractive and available and relatively cheap. It would forestall the need for deeper, faster cuts in the future and it would protect the economy from damage. So why is it not activated immediately? Because people are looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

Remodelling the Integrity Standards
The Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency uses the current Kyoto definition of Standards such as Additionality as a starting point for innovation. The Consultation Paper makes this request: “Stakeholders are invited to comment on this approach to assessing additionality and whether alternative approaches should be considered.”
Carbon Farmers of Australia has set out its response to the Integrity Standards under the following headings:

Standard – current definition
Questions arising from current definition
Recommendations
Principles on which Standard should be redefined
Suggested Action Points

This is an important opportunity which should not be missed. Email michael@carboncoalition.com.au or a copy of our submission. Please feel free to comment on, add to, strike out, disagree with… what we have proposed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Climate Smart Agriculture at Cancun

While AGDAY 2009 at Copenhagen was focused on ‘a special arrangment for Agriculture’ based on its ‘specificity’ (its cobenefits), in 2010 at Cancun these cobenefits are being integrated into planning. For example, integrated farm forestry shows promise. “Enhanced agroforestry schemes in Africa have benefitted the environment, farmers and food security. In Niger over 4.8 million hectares of millet and sorghum are being grown in agro-forests and in Malawi maize yields have increased by up to 280%,” says the Summary of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day. These are examples of what is called “Climate smart agriculture” or practical solutions for triple wins (co-benefits): adaptation, mitigation and food security. But where was the driver for this change – the market? It’s there, but it has to share the stage with many other agendas. “Policy makers cannot afford to neglect … the potential for carbon sequestration through agriculture. Ground work is needed to develop a framework to build confidence and attract resources. There is a need to use a range of instruments to create incentives for farmers, including insurance, credit and direct and indirect payments. Policies should ensure multiple benefits and access to markets to increase farmer income while improving mitigation, for example by more efficient use of inputs… Increased investments in climate smart institutions, policies, programmes and incentives should be harmonised at all levels to assist in implementing mitigation and carbon sequestration measures that benefit farmers.”
Australia is world standard in having gaps in the data: among the “significant knowledge gaps” facing global agriculture is listed “the potential of carbon sequestration” and the need is for “interdisciplinary research that draws on the best of traditional knowledge and science to achieve more sustainable food and farming systems.”
We call it “Collaborative Science”.
Meanwhile, over at the main stadium where ssues such as emissions reductions targets and renewable energy occupy all the time of the big players, smaller issues like food and water are being noticed: “UNFCCC negotiations now recognise the
importance of food security, adaptation and productivity enhancements for agriculture…”
The Agday meeting – attended by 400 delegates from diverse organisatons - declared the following actions urgent if first order agricultural issues are to be integrated into the global action plan: 1. “Fast track financing” to support agriculture adaptation and mitigation activities.
2. Action on food security must be included in any post
2012 agreements. 3. Forestry programs (like REDD+) should recognise the links between agriculture and forestry, and promote sustainable agriculture intensification and reduce deforestation, while improving rural livelihoods. 4. Trading mechanisms such as the CDM need to include agriculture.
The Communique ended with a plea for partnerships between public and private sector, especially farmers, and civil society organizations. “Building bridges between scientific and traditional knowledge is the essential starting point for success.”

Was Cancun's Agday hijacked?

Why do we have Agday at Cancun? Agriculture has to stage it’s own day because its not included in the official program, even though there have been 16 of these Conferences of Parties. There has been one major shift from last year’s Agday. That green ideology dominates the organizations involved is obvious by the way the Summary of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day uses the WWF and Animal Liberation’s trick – in the now discredited FAO report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” - that ‘proved’ that cattle were the world’s most destructive animal by making them responsible for deforestration of the Amazon. This time it’s all of Agriculture in the frame: “Over a third of direct global emissions is due to agriculture and other land use change…” Other land use includes deforestration – which is as much a timber industry activity, and there is no attempt to calculate the amount of emissions sequestered by farmers. By this sleight of hand, Agriculture becomes a net emitter: “It is estimated that agriculture has the potential to sequester up to 90% of agriculture’s total emissions.” And so we return to that old song; Agriculture is the problem, not the solution. Handicap agriculture with deforestation for whatever purpose and it's easy to paint a picture with only one colour.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Highlights of Draft Design of Carbon Farming Initiative, Part 3

Unlike most markets around the world, the CFI is legislated. Its reason is they want to 'provide long term certainty to participants': The fundamental principle behind the Government's approach is this: Buyers are the most important participants because unless they feel confident that they are getting what they paid for, they won't buy. For this reason, offets must meet the most stringent standards... "To underpin the environmental integrity and market value of carbon credits, abatement will need to meet internationally consistent integrity standards." But if the Integrity Principles make it too hard for farmers they won't change their land management practices or maintain the change if they have already made it. The Scheme has 2 Design Principles that are in contradiction. Design Principle 1: "Ensuring environmental integrity - credits that represent genuine and additional emissions abatement will have a higher market value and help address climate change." Design Principle 2: "Enabling broad participation - clear and simple rules will keep administrative costs low and ensure that farmers.. can benefit from the scheme." The contradiction: The Government will not achieve broad participation if it insists on a strictly by-the-book Kyoto approach to issues such as Additionality and Permanence. The barrier to purchase is not ultimately fear of being short changed. It is ignorance of the urgency of the need to get every farmer in Australia and the world to capture and hold as much carbon in their soils as possible, for as long as possible because, unless they do, the chance of limiting global warming to an increase of 2°C is gone. (See the facts at Only Soil Carbon Can Keep The Lid On 2°C)

Highlights of Draft Design of Carbon Farming Initiative, Part 2

What is the difference between the CFI and NCOS and CPRS and ETS? It's simple: The CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) was a proposal by the Rudd Government for a "Compliance"-based "Cap & Trade" market for emissions offsets. That is an ETS or Emissions Trading Scheme. "Compliance" means 'compulsory'. "Cap & Trade" means emitters must change their business practices to reduce their emissions to reach a target level or 'cap'.. If they cannot reach that target in the timeframe given (called a Compliance Period) they must purchase 'offsets' or 'permits' from emitters who exceeded their targets and earned credits by doing so, or from companies earning credits by generating renewable energy or from companies earning credits by sequestering or capturing and holding CO2 in forests. Under the Rudd CPRS scheme only 1000 companies were required to meet a target in each compliance period. They were the 1000 top emitters. They could purchase offsets from local or international companies. The NCOS (National Carbon Offset Standard) was designed to operate alongside the CPRS 'compliance' market by providing a "Voluntary" scheme. It makes available to Australian companies and consumers a source of Australian offsets that they can purchase to offset their emissions so that they can make an advertising claim that their products etc. are carbon neutral or simply to make contribution to the climate change effort by offsetting a family's emissions. The NCOS covers only domestic offsets offered to voluntary buyers. The Carbon Farming Initiative completes the set. It covers domestic and international markets, both compliance and voluntary. The only market not covered is the market that is yet to start: the CPRS or the national domestic compliance market.

Who are the buyers?

Demand for CFI credits is expected to come from foreign governments seeking to meet their Kyoto obligations, as well as companies overseas seeking to meet their obligations under national or regional schemes, such as the EU Emission Trading Scheme. CFI credits could also be attractive to companies operating in markets dominated by the voluntary market, such as Australia's traditional trade partner Japan. One important category of buyers not mentioned in the Consultation Paper are consumers overseas who are fans of the country and have a soft spot for Aussie farmers. Back at home, some companies need offsets to meet obligations where State Governments have introduced their own compliance schemes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Highlights of Draft Design of Carbon Farming Initiative, Part 1

The Carbon Farming Initiative first saw daylight as an election promise - which could make it a fragile prospect for ever being delivered. But when seen in context, it is a sure thing (as sure as anything can be in a 'balanced Parliament' environment)... When the CPRS crashed and burned, Australian consumers and corporates wanting to 'abate' their emissions were offered the voluntary market in the form of the National Carbon Offset Standard. It covers all offsets not covered in Australia's Kyoto commitment - which is mainly farm carbon offsets. Alas, forestry is covered by our Kyoto commitment and its promoters were looking forward to a bonanza under the CPRS. Instead they had the floor fall away from underneath them and the forests ceased marching across the countryside. The CFI plugs that gap for forests because it applies to both Kyoto and non-Kyoto offsets. So the CFI and the NCOS fit together.

The scheme covers reforestation and revegetation; reduced methane emissions from livestock; reduced fertiliser emissions; manure management; reduced emissions and/or increased sequestration in agricultural soils (soil carbon); savanna fire management; avoided deforestation; burning of stubble/crop residue; reduced emissions from rice cultivation; and reduced emissions from landfill waste.

The scheme is scheduled to start on 1 July, 2011.

Farmers to shape Carbon Farming Initiative

Carbon Farmers of Australia and the Carbon Coalition were sent an advance copy of the consultation paper on the Carbon Farming Initiative, for discussion at a stakeholder consultation meeting in Canberra on Friday 19 November. “This consultation paper is the first step in a dialogue with stakeholders about the CFI. It describes and seeks stakeholder feedback on a range of options in relation to the design of the scheme,” said Shayleen Thompson, First Assistant Secretary, Land Division, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. [PIC: Shayleen Thompson met Tom Nicholas, chairman of Healthy Soils Australia at the consultation.]
Submissions are due by 21 January 2011. “The meeting on Friday will provide an opportunity to work through and explain the content of the paper, and respond to any questions, which may assist your organisation to understand and consider the options and provide feedback to the government.” Also at the stakeholder consultation was Maya Stewart-Fox, Director, New Policy, who spoke at the Carbon Farming Conference, and we also met Rohan Nelson, Director, Carbon Farming Initiative. The attitude of the Department was genuinely consultitative… We detected a desire to make the CFI work and a belief that farmers – far from being told what to do - could be a useful source of ideas for what the Department should do. [PIC:Meeting the Minister's Senior Advisor Peter Nicholas.] We also found the same approach in Minister Greg Combet’s Senior Advisor Peter Nicholas who we met last month at the Carbon Expo in Melbourne. He also attended the meeting in Canberra and told us that the Minister was expecting a lot of ideas from the sector.

Australian Farm Offsets to Japan?


The Voluntary Market is not a side issue in Japan where companies are buying so many offsets they could enable the Japanese Government to meet its obligations. The Japanese Government sent two senior carbon market analysts from Mitsubishi Bank on a world tour of countries that could produce offsets that Japanese companies can purchase. Mr Hemmi Tatsushi and Ms Miyuki Konuma from Mitsubishi UFJ Research & Consulting, Environmental Policy Consulting Dept. We Mr Hemmi and Ms Konuma as part of a delegation from Sustainable Business Australia, which we joined recently.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coal industry predicts opportunity for soils?

The International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) says that the major governments’ commitment to a 2°C temperature target would mean coal demand will have to peak by 2020, and by 2035 will have dropped to 2003 levels.
Under a 2°C scenario, coal and oil’s 46% share of global electricity generation would fall to 22% in 2030. The share captured by non-hydro renewables would go from 3% to 20%.
Writing in Climate Spectator, Paul Gilding says the 2°C is widely respected: "It is the line in the sand scientists have drawn and said, if we go past it we face catastrophic system-wide risk. While some scientists argue that number is too high and too risky, none of any consequence argue it is too low. That’s why the governments of China, India, Europe and the USA have all agreed, along with many global corporates, that 2°C is the line we can’t cross."
SOil CARBON is the Solution.

Good News: Soil beats coal hands down for emissions

Two people who deserve special mention for their effective advocacy of The Soil Carbon Solution are Tony Lovell from Soil Carbon Australia and John White from Ignite Energy. John has welter of powerful facts in his arsenal, some of which we list here:

1. There is now more carbon in the atmosphere and in oceans from degraded landscape, namely soils, than has been emitted by the burning of fossil fuels since the the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
2. In the last 200-odd years, the amount of carbon lost from soils is estimated at around 500 billion tons, while the amount created by fossil fuel emissions is estimated at around 360 billion tons – making the focus on fossil fuels emissions as the predominant cause of climate change, arguably, misplaced.
3. In Australia, scientists have estimated that soil carbon lost since European settlement, by traditional grazing and cropping on the 500 million hectares of Australian rangelands and farmlands, could be as much as 150-200 billion tons. This is equivalent to around 300 years of Australia’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Meanwhile, the world’s forests and oceans currently take up about 40 per cent of annual human CO2 emissions, of around 30 billion tons a year.
5. A reason for this shortfall is that there are over three billion hectares of managed grazing and cropping lands on the planet, most of which are now well below their saturation soil carbon capacity.
6. These lands are now net emitters of greenhouse gases.
7. A 0.1 per cent increase in soil carbon in these agricultural lands could reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by around 4 ppm.
8. A 0.1 per cent increase in soil carbon on just 10 per cent of Australia’s cropping and grazing lands, each year, would offset all of Australia’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions.
9. Professor Ross Garnaut has called biosequestration “potentially Australia’s most important contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases.”
10. The International Federation of Agricultural Producers says “economic incentives are needed to enable farmers to implement more sustainable agricultural practices. Carbon credit systems would reward farmers for their contribution to climate mitigation through carbon sequestering activities.”
11. In July 2009 the Portuguese government introduced a soil carbon offsets scheme based on dryland pasture improvement compliant with Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol. The Portuguese data shows that under sown perennial pasture soil organic matter increased by around 0.21 per cent per annum over a 10 year period.
12. There are now hundreds of farms in Australia that have converted to biological farming and fertilising systems, and planned grazing techniques that, while being more profitable, successfully and sustainably sequester CO2 in the soils as soil carbon.
13. Little has been done so far by our science institutes to study such success stories.
14. The Australian government should ... encourage every farmer in Australia to adopt farm practices that build soil carbon.
15. Biological carbon capture use and storage (Bio-CCS) needs to become common practice for Australia's agriculture industry. Not only would it mean a huge reduction in Australia's carbon emissions, it has the great advantage that it uses CO2 to deliver useful products and better environmental, employment and health outcomes, at very low-cost, with positive GDP impacts, and potentially at huge-scale in the near-term.

Bravo John White.

Food Security Action Fund Miserly Compared to "Clean Coal"

Reuters reports a global fund of $20 million a year for 10 years has been established to research how to feed the world population in the face of worsening floods and droughts. By 2050, global "potential to produce food" could decline by 5 to 10 percent, after an average increase through 2020, according to Andy Jarvis, an agriculture policy expert at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, based in Colombia. The program will use an Australian climate model to look at how rising temperatures and rainfall changes affect 50 major crops worldwide including sorghum, millet, sweet potato, wheat, rice and maize. Climate models point to accelerating declines in production of rain-fed wheat worldwide of 2.2 percent by 2020, 4 percent by 2050 and 18.6 percent by 2080, unless climate change is curbed or effective adaptive measures are put in place, scientists told reporters.
Maintaining adequate food production in the face of climate pressures may require some societies to switch their staple crops, if varieties more tolerant of drought, floods and pests cannot be successfully developed.
The amount of funding applied to this project compared with the billions spent on coal technology is revealing of distorted priorities. (Source: Climate Spectator)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CARBON FARMING CONFERENCE SLIDES NOW AVAILABLE


The slide presentations from the Carbon Farming Conference have been posted on the conference website at http://carbonfarmingconference.com.au/Conference/KeySpeakers.html Dr Jeff Baldock (pictured) reported on progress of the Soil Carbon Research Program.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DOIC Member "Gets It"

Mark Dangerfield is a member of the DOIC – the Government’s Domestic Offset Integrity Committee. He is an experienced forest project developer. He also speaks sense about soil carbon, in an article in climate Spectator in September, before he was appointed:
“There is a consensus among climate scientists that the net greenhouse gas emission reductions we must achieve to keep warming below dangerous levels cannot happen without the agricultural sector. They are right, it can’t.“There are three reasons for this assertion. The first is that emission reductions from energy efficiency, mitigation and renewable projects will struggle to keep pace with ever-growing emissions from global energy demand. Mitigation projects in energy sectors will slow emission rates but leave legacy emissions in the atmosphere.
“The second reason follows from a need to deal with this legacy. Smart agricultural and forestry practices can suck back CO2 and store it in vegetation and soil – so-called biosequestration. In Australia the sequestration potential in agriculture alone is 100 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (CO2e) per annum, or a quarter of Australian anthropogenic emissions with the bonus that soil with more carbon in it is far better for production that soil with less.”
“The third reason, and the big one, is land clearing…” He advocates ‘Improved Forestry management’ – actively maintaining carbon stocks in stands of trees as they revolve through a lifecycle to harvesting. We believe that arrangement could form part of an integrated farm carbon plan, in the right circmstances.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Soil carbon credits in Kenya

Small-holder farmers in Kenya are involved in the first soil carbon project in Africa. The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project iaims to improve food security, help address climate change, and improve the livelihoods of rural dwellers.
“The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project is not only the first project that sells soil carbon credits in Africa, it is also paving the way for a new approach to carbon accounting methodologies,” says JoĆ«lle Chassard, Manager of the Carbon Finance Unit at the World Bank.
The Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement (ERPA),. adds the benefits of carbon finance to a sustainable agricultural land management project that increases the productivity of the Kenyan farmers and also sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Developed with the support of the World Bank, the project generates carbon credits which are sold to the Bank-administered BioCarbon Fund. The direct benefit to local communities is over US$350,000 with an initial payment of US$80,000 to be made in the first year, 2011.
The Project, implemented by the Swedish non-governmental organization Vi Agroforestry, is located on 45,000 hectares in the Nyanza Province and Western Province of Kenya. There, small-holder farmers and small-scale business entrepreneurs are trained in diverse cropland management techniques such as covering crops, crop rotation, compost management, and agro-forestry. These practices increase the yield of the land and generate additional sources of income for the farmers through the payment for environmental services in the form of carbon credits.
“The development of a new methodology for carbon sequestration in agriculture has great direct benefits for the farmers in Kenya and tremendous potential for scaling up.
The BioCarbon Fund purchases emission reductions from afforestation and reforestation projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), as well as from land-use sector projects outside the CDM. These include projects that increase carbon sequestration in soils through improved agriculture practices. The BioCarbon Fund develops methodologies and tools that are in the public domain

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In defence of CMAs on Additionality

In defence of CMAs, their Additionality predicament is easy to see. Soil carbon came out of left field, catching many off guard. Some dismissed it can 'a silver bullet' and suspicion was so high one CMA struck the term 'soil carbon' from its communications. The targets set for CMAs could be easily achieved were the soil carbon solution unleashed. So, without realising that the Additionality Principle existed (and convinced by the campaign to talk down the prospect of soil carbon offsets that they would never eventuate), various programs were run to engage farmers in soil carbon sequestration. There could be no intention to harm the interests of farmers. But those defining the parameters of the National Carbon Offset Standard should be aware of the Additionality Dilemma and weigh the consequences of a strict Kyoto interpretation. The flexibility built into the Prime Carbon soil carbon unit - based on the now proven theory of in-soil photosynthesis - offers farmers who have already made a shift to carbon farming an easy way to achieve Additionality..
Government aqencies should make submissions to the Domestic Offset Integrity Committee to rectify the injustice of punishing early movers by reinterpreting the ADDITIONALITY PRINCIPLE.


The stars indicate CMA Targets that could be achieved with a market-based solution.

It's Official: Best Farmers Will Be Penalised

Government agencies such as Catchment Management Authorities may have led farmers to disqualify themselves from earning money for growing the carbon in their soils. Farmers who switch to green farming practices before the Government’s new Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee (DOIC) decides on a method of measuring soil carbon will be shut out of the market, if Kyoto principles are strictly observed.
Maya Stewart-Fox, Director, Emerging Markets, Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency indicated in her presentation to the Carbon Farming Conference that the Government wants a strict interpretation of the Kyoto principles. If DOIC insists on a black and white approach to the Additionality Principle, many thousands of Australia’s best farmers will be denied access to the market for soil carbon offsets because they have already made the change to ‘carbon farming’ and don’t need an incentive to achieve the Government’s goal.

The reasoning behind the Additionality is explained below.

The number of farmers affected by this “Additionality Dilemma” would be in the thousands, and they would be the best farmers in their districts. How did this happen? Plainly the CMA’s involved were not sufficiently aware of the Additionality Principle when they were advising their ‘clients’.

What options exist for farmers affected? They are few: 1. Cop it sweet and accept the advice of so many advisers that they should not look upon carbon offsets as a revenue stream, but only as a side-benefit. The farmer, according to these advisers (invariably not farmers themselves), should be satisfied with the environmental and production benefits. 2. Burn and plough rigorously to reduce your soil carbon levels and establish a new ‘business as usual’ from which you can possibly remake the change and qualify. 3. Join other affected farmers in a class action against the government agencies to recover the lost revenue. 4. Lobby the government agencies, farmers associations and other advisers who promoted the advice mentioned in point 1. to put pressure on the Commonwealth Government to abandon the Additionality Principle for Agriculture.

As a general word of warning, commentators such as farmers' associations, government extension services, and others whose role involves giving advice to farmers on matters relating to carbon markets should be aware that there is a possibility that such advice might be construed by a court as relating to financial or investment decisions, exposing the advice-giver to an action in law for losses incurred as a result of acting on their advice. In cases where the advice-giver holds out to have expert knowledge on which the farmer can rely, there is a possibility of a class action.

The Carbon Coalition's advice is for the CMAs involved to seek legal advice on the issue and to join the Coalition's campaign to have the Additionality Principle reconfigured for the Agriculture sector.

Our advice on Additionality, 2008 - THEY WERE WARNED

THE FOLLOWING BLOG ENTRY FROM 2008 - THE CARBON COALITION RANG THE BELL

Getting ready to trade? What about “Additionality”

According to the experts, all projects that aim to earn carbon credits must pass the “Additionality” test. This is to prove that the emissions prevented or sequestered were the result of deliberate action designed to qualify for carbon credits and not the result of ‘business as usual’, ie. would not have happened anyway.

We cannot tell you what to do because the Government has got to decide. But here is the system presented by the UNFCCC. It is a 4-step process that analyses the project to ensure that it would not have happened without the revenue from the carbon credits.

STEP 1. Identification of alternatives to the project activity consistent with mandatory laws and regulations. Were there other viable options beside the carbon-related activity?

STEP 2. Investment analysis: Of the options, is the proposed project activity unlikely to be the most financially attractive or unlikely to be financially attractive?

STEP 3. Barrier analysis: (1) Is there at least one barrier preventing the implementation of the proposed project activity without the promise of credits; and (2) Is at least one alternative scenario, other than proposed project activity, not prevented by any of the identified barriers?

STEP 4. Common practice analysis:
(1) No similar activities can be observed?
(2) If similar activities are observed, are there essential distinctions between the proposed project activity and similar activities that can reasonably be explained?

NOT ADDITIONAL: A Project is not additional if it would be a financially-attractive option without the carbon credits and there are no insurmountable barriers preventing implementation that make the carbon credits essential.

ADDITIONAL: A Project is additional if, compared to other investment options, it is either financially unattractive or faces insurmountable barriers without the ingredient of carbon credits plus it is not common practice in the location or has unique features which make it a risky option.

COMMENTARY: These tests for Additionality were designed for CDM projects, usually clean energy projects in ’developing’ countries, not soil sequestration at home. But like so many Kyoto Principles invented for one purpose, they are likely to be applied inappropriately to other categories of climate change solution. The Investment Analysis would knock carbon farmers out because their low input regimes can turn a profit when high input farmers are struggling. The Common Practice test would rule no till cultivation out in WA and SA where more than 50% of farmers practice it.

But there is no escaping it. Additionality is the top rating issue with Voluntary Market offset buyers, according to the annual survey by Ecosystem Marketplace & New Carbon Finance.

Will “Additionality” rob you of soil carbon credits?

A report in Australian Farm Journal (June, 08) featured a farmer getting his first cheque from Landcare CarbonSmart for locking away land for 100 years, planting trees on it. The farmer said the planting would have happened anyway, without the small amount Landcare pays. And here’s where the Kyoto Accounting Principle “Additionality” rears its ugly head.

The Rule is: “Business-As –Usual” doesn’t qualify. It must be a change in land management in direct response to the climate change challenge and it must be dependent on the additional money for it to happen.. The carbon sequestered must be ‘additional’ to what would have been the case anyway.

It’s not hard to see a whole raft of farmers who have already moved to carbon farming techniques being locked out of the carbon credit market because the Kyoto accountants say they made the change without the promise of carbon revenues; or they are unable to prove that their intention was to sequester CO2 and their motive was money.

If the Government sets a date before which changes to carbon farming are not eligible and that date doesn’t go back far enough, then the pioneers who did the hard yards – like Col Seis who invented pasture cropping and has socked away hundreds of tonnes of carbon per hectare – will miss out. With 85% of WA farmers no-till and 50% in SA, you can see the scale of the injustice.

The Carbon Coalition has been told by high-ranking public servants that the Government is keen to avoid “perverse outcomes” such as farmers left out of the scheme returning to the plough and stubble removal and set stocking for a spell so they can qualify for the credits. (The worst outcome.)

Why has no advice been given out to protect the interests of farmers willing to change to do their bit? Because while they would mention additionality in the long list of reasons why soil carbon could not ever be traded, they never thought the day would ever come when farmers would need to know about it.

There are several reasons why Additionality could be a blockage to maximizing our response to climate change:

1. It relies upon the fiction that a person’s intention can be known and that documents can prove it.
2. It ignores human nature and the impact on a carbon farmer who made the move early and missed out seeing their destructive neighbour being rewarded.
3. It is an absolute failure in its everyday application in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) market. Billions of dollars are being paid to Chinese energy companies for projects that clearly are not within the bounds of Additionality.

Additionality was introduced for CDM market. It is an international system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing nations. The market for CDM credits is is worth nearly $20bn a year, but this is expected to grow to over $100bn within four years.

Two senior Stanford University researchers examined more than 3,000 Chinese projects applying for or already granted up to $10bn of credits from the UN's CDM funds. They concluded that the majority should not qualify. "They would be built anyway," says David Victor, law professor at the Californian university. "It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts." All new hydro, wind, and natural gas fired projects in China claim credit for emissions reductions under the CDM, each makes the argument that it would not have been constructed but for the carbon offsets. But the Chinese Government has policies to support clean generation. Even more revealing, nearly three quarters of all registered CDM projects were complete at the time of approval, suggesting that CDM money was not needed to finance them. International Rivers’ Patrick McCully, who makes the allegation, says: “ Judging additionality has turned out to be unknowable and unworkable. It can never be proved definitively that if a developer or factory owner did not get offset income they would not build their project."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Carbon Coalition First Cab off the Rank for Carbon Farming Initiative

The Carbon Coalition handed over the first submission of methodologies under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) to the Commonwealth Government on Wednesday, 27th October at the Coalition’s Carbon Farming Conference in Dubbo NSW. It was received by Maya Stewart-Fox, Director, Emerging Markets, Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency who addressed the Conference.
The submission outlines methodologies for 5 different farm activity areas: soil carbon sequestration, emissions from fertiliser use, revegetation on defined areas, water efficiency and reduced use of lime. These units have been designed by Coalition member Prime Carbon in response to an invitation from Climate Change Minister Greg Combet who announced that the Government was looking for 'firms to come forward with new approaches for other domestic offsets that are not currently counted towards our Kyoto target, including soil carbon and forestry.’
The Government announced the make up of the Domestic Offset Integrity Committee which will assess submission as part of the Carbon Farming Initiative. It includes soils expert Professor Annette Cowie, who spoke at the Conference.

Pictured at handover of the first series of Carbon Trading Methodologies by the Carbon Coalition at the Carbon Farming Conference in Dubbo 27 October, 2010 (left to right) Louisa Kiely (Director, Carbon Farmers of Australia, conference organisers), Maya Stuart-Fox, (Director, Emerging Markets, Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency), Bret DeHahr (National Facilitator, Landcare), and Ken Bellamy (Prime Carbon, designer of offset methodologies).
PICTURED Ken Bellamy (Prime Carbon) and Maya Stewart-Fox (DCCEE) shared the podium at the Carbon Farming Conference.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Come back James Porteous

("Trading carbon" in ECOS 14 September, 2010) ECOS spins the prayer wheel: [our responses in brackets]: "Several hurdles need to be cleared if Australian farmers are to become carbon traders. First, there is no well-established, cost-effective method of accurately measuring and monitoring soil carbon." [How many resources have been devoted to it to date? The injustice. Starve a problem of research attention then criticise it for having made no progress. Besides, Veris On-The-Move NIS Probe technology can measure soil carbon with a 90% confidence rate.] "Second, while NCOS offers guidelines for voluntary trading, there is no guarantee that the scheme will take off." [There is no guarantee that the Sun will rise tomorrow.] "And third, scientists still don’t have a very good idea of how effectively the various ‘carbon-friendly’ management strategies actually increase soil carbon." [So what? Ben Norton's work on the collective inability of scientists to reproduce soil and vegetation responses to management that thousands of farmers on three continents have experienced - in the McClymont Lecture 1998 - suggests Science will never recognise the potency of Carbon Farming.]

Prayer wheel: "... accurately monitoring changes in soil carbon is currently prohibitively expensive." [One proposed methodology eliminates a major cost factor by setting Bulk Density at a constant of 1 - which eliminates the need for expensive analysis while favouring the buyer. This is the type of creative, imaginative thinking needed for solving this and the other puzzle.

Prayer wheel again: "Central to the third problem – the question of effectiveness – is the issue of ensuring that sequestering soil carbon is indeed a good way to mitigate or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, this will depend on how policy dictates that farmers who plan to trade carbon use their land." [Government cannot dictate land management practices for trade. ANy farmer who wants can submit a methodology to any one of the string of certifying bodies in the world (VCS, Gold Standard, etc.) can trade under their standards. "....There are a number of approaches that, although they will increase the amount of carbon sequestered, will also increase emissions –which farmers don’t need to account for in the current iteration of Australia’s voluntary market." [Current Government policy is to incentivise farmers to reduce emissions rather than to 'dictate' to them what they will do. This pathway was chosen because the measurement of emissions at enterprise level is more problematic than measurement of soil carbon. No one has suggested that farmers will be forced to account for their emissions under any scheme proposed. Why does this issue continue to be raised as a barrier to trade?]
And so on... This article is just another iteration of the Complexities Syndrome that afflicts those suffering Future Shock. As Rattan Lal told the soil science community in 2007, "The train is leaving the station. Get on board."


PS. Whatever happened to James Porteous? He "got it."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Soil scientists say farmers don't need the money

"There’s a virtual consensus among soil scientists that Australian farmers shouldn’t need any extra incentives to increase their levels of soil carbon." Thus spake Ecos, the mouthpiece of CSIRO, which, according to legend, is the hungriest research body when it comes to funds, so say the many scientists it has worked with in collaborative projects. Now the author of this line in a Sept. 15 article on trading soil carbon - Adam Barclay - was either being naive or deliberately provocative. No matter, for here we have the reason why so many scientists work actively against farmers' rights to sell the carbon they grow. They don't believe that the farmers deserve to be paid for performing environmental services. Which explains the torrent of articles like this one, that raise complexities without seeking to resolve them, implying they make trading soil C impossible. Most of these complexities are either solvable by someone with an imagination, something few scientists possess, or they are irrelevant window dressing.
For the sake of accuracy and for the public record we will do a thorough job on the many absurdities in this ECOS article soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mary MacKillop, Patron Saint of the Unreasonable

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw, "Maxims for Revolutionists"

I knew them as Sister Bede and Sister Terese. They were my Mother's Grandfather's sisters. They were brown Saint Joseph's nuns. Irish Catholic women who joined Mary MacKillop's band of revolutionists who believed the poor should be educated to be freed from their serfdom. I was taught by brown St Joseph's nuns. They didn't look like revolutionists. But they were very confident and outgoing. Lovely women with a strong social consciousness.. Perhaps I was infected with their founder's defiance of institutional authority. When her independence offended the Irish Catholic bigots who served as bishops in the colonies, and they tried to bring her to heel, she did not succumb. She went to Rome and convinced the Pope to break with tradition and free her Order from priestly control. Mary MacKillop, Patron Saint of the Unreasonable. Please give us the strength to be unreasonable when ancient rules block humanity's progress.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Moneychangers in the Temple

Whenever soil carbon sequestration is reduced to a transaction between a buyer and a seller, the process is transformed, at the hands of the reducer, to a grimy money matter when what is taking place is a genuine attempt to correct an imbalance that threatens everyone. I detect a tone of disapproval whenever the trade is mentioned, as if the farmer should do the right thing for no recompense and that this holy vocation should not be sullied by moneychangers in the temple. The paranoia that someone might get rich on the proceeds of sequestration is just that, paranoia. The reality is that the market will meander and falter for some time because the price will be set far too low for farmers to risk getting involved. Measurement will never be exact, but estimated (as is tree carbon). But the real progress will be made when the need to wait for perfect science is recognised as a dangerous distraction. Prof. Annette Cowie and Dr Graeme Pearman have both said recently that to wait for perfect science will be too late. We need every landholder to start maximum sequestration, whether we can measure it or not. So long as we know the amplitude and the frequency of flux we can calculate a mean score that will allow trade to proceed. The way I see it, a buyer buys a tonne of CO2-e not to consume or wear it, but to know it has been immobilised for a period of time. If one customer gets half a tonne and another gets a tonne an a half, both should be satisfied that they got value. But there is more to the strategy than thre transaction. We must work within the dynamic reality of carbon. It cannot be prevented from cycling because it is carbon and must do so. But we can 'stall' it long enough to give renewables time to reach a baseload capability which can meet the world's needs. So the real process that is going on is not a series of simple transactions. It is the change of behaviour by the land manager we need, a change in behaviour for long enough that it becomes a change of attitude which eventually becomes a change of culture. And that is Permanence. In any scheme we are involved with the units will be retired on the first trade to prevent exploitation by market manipulators, farmers will never be called upon to make good losses by drought, etc. because they will put up an extra tonne as surety for every tonne sold, which errs on the side of the buyer, and the distribution of thousands of growers across climate zones will spread the risk. Contract duration will be based on what is acceptable to growers, otherwise there is no point. The price of measurement is reduced by setting Bulk Density at a constant value of 1. This eliminates an expensive step and also errs on the side of the buyer. Trade is not the main game. It is a catalyst for a process that aims to fulfill a role of soil and atmospheric rebalancing. Not one that aims to satisfy a set of accounting rules that are not relevant to the task at hand. Which is behaviour change by the greatest number, including the intransigent majority, deaf to the entreaties of CMAs, Landcare Groups, and extension officers to do the right thing by the environment. Money makes their world go round.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Doubt is our product": The Uncanny Similarity of Strategy

There is an astonishing likeness between the strategy used by CLimate Skeptics to derail action against Climate Change and the strategy used by those opposing the trade in soil carbon offsets. The Grand Strategy that led to success for the Climate Change Denialists was developed by the American Petroleum Institute, and leaked in 1998 to the New York Times in the form of a memo that stated: “Victory will be achieved when…recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’” It was the same strategy used by tobacco companies to fight the fact that smoking causes lung cancer. A tobacco company memo from the late 1960s, which observed: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” (1)

The following is a prime example of the Anti-Science of Soil Carbon: Complexity is a reason why soil C should not be traded, rather than as a problem seeking a solution."There are numerous complicating factors that will need to be addressed and dealt with explicitly in any market-based GHG trading scheme that involves C-sequestration into grazed ecosystems." (2) (See The 10 Complexities below.)

It was after several months of exposure to similar false assertions of complexity that the Victorian Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Soil Carbon Sequestration decided: “Due to the significant scientific and economic uncertainties associated with soil carbon sequestration, the Committee concluded that a cautious and conservative approach should be taken in establishing incentive mechanisms to encourage soil carbon sequestration in Victoria.”

Nearly every one of the 10 Complexities can be eliminated with a small amount of common sense. But this scientist is not interested in solutions. Complexity means risk. Risk means insecurity. Insecurity means fear. And to make sure the policymaker reading this paper feels the fear, the scientist becomes hysterical: “The existence of the above and other real-life complexities will render market-based C-trading schemes involving pastures, exposed to the risks of complicated, ill-conceived, ill-understood, poorly regulated financial instruments and arrangements that are replete with opportunity for fraudulent scams and inappropriate diversion of community wealth to the personal fortunes of scheme managers and traders, while not delivering the scheme objectives, reminiscent of those involved in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009.”

The 10 Soil Carbon Complexities:

"These include, linked emission and/or uptake of methane and nitrous oxide associated with management changes for achieving changed C-sequestration, the impact on C-stocks of wildfire frequency and intensity, compensatory non-domesticated animal grazing, and large scale movement of high-C surface topsoil by flood and wind, difficulties of defining baseline C-stocks and baseline GHG fluxes from each patch of land under consideration especially when the requisite baseline is in the past, long time-frames (several decades) required and high expense for measuring change in C-stocks in each patch of land under a scheme, the high actual input-value or opportunity-value of the mineral elements associated with increased organic C stocks, the special status of any lands that have already been defined as “Kyoto Lands” by coming under Kyoto Protocol arrangements, and the interaction of C-sequestration with other environmental externalities that are coming under different management policy arrangements such as interactions with hydrological and biodiversity policies."


(1) Chris Mooney, "Some Like It Hot As The World Burns", MotherJones May/June 2005 Issue
(2) Roger M. Gifford, CSIRO Plant Industry, “Carbon sequestration in Australian Grasslands: Policy and Technical Issues”, Proceedings of FAO workshop on The role of grassland carbon sequestration in the mitigation of climate change
Rome, 15-17 April 2009

Important link between polluters and farmers

The Carbon Farming Conference is “probably one of the most important conferences that the region could have", according to Nationals MLC Duncan Gay. "The importance of the interaction between farmers and carbon polluters is integral to the future. Carbon is deficient in our soil and it is important to take measures to fix it.”

Monday, October 04, 2010

Conference pie has meat, not just pastry, says Matt Cawood

"A lot of conferences are memorable for the networking you do between sessions. The Carbon Coalition conferences are memorable for the sessions, as well. Other public discussions of soil carbon tend to be along the lines of "perhaps, but ...". The Carbon Coalition conferences ask "why not?". That's a much more productive place to be starting from.'

Matt Cawood, Muddy Green.

Muddy Green is a meaty blog on enviro-agricultural-food integrity issues.

New ways to enrich soils

The Carbon Farming Conference and Expo at Dubbo on 27-28 October, has an astonishing line-up of soil treatments:
Coal or fly ash is available in vast quantities because power stations have mountains of by-product after coal is burned, most of which is buried in landfill. Scientists are testing different combinations to make controlled release fertiliser.
Chailings is charcoal made from coal mine tailings. Farmers have proved for themselves that production can be boosted by the application of raw coal dust. Chailings are processed for greater effectiveness.
Compost can create odor and take a great deal of turning to reach its point of peak effectiveness. But a new on-farm system eliminates both problems. Spray inoculant over the compost and it turns itself,
Exhaust fume burial is a novel approach to disposing of emissions by processing them into a fertiliser and wrapping them around the seed.
Soil biology stimulants or ‘triggers’ work by ‘waking up’ native microbes rather than by delivering the microbes to the soil. This means the stimulant can be delivered in a spray pass with herbicides. This makes it economic to treat broadacre operations.
Soil biology catalysts are agents that respond to the needs of the plant by delivering the correct nutrient when it is needed.
There are 30 speakers scheduled on the program.
For further information, 02 6374 0329
Conference web site: www.carbonfarmingconference.com.au

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Bring out your dread!"

Prof. Tim Flannery may have puzzled some by appearing in his new book Here On Earth to have become relaxed and comfortable about Global Warming. But he is simply performing a therapeutic ritual we call Defusing The Dread. Denialists think they are being rational when in fact all the evidence indicates that they are deeply traumatised by fear of Climate Change- which their minds are reacting to as if to a death, the death of the future. Denial is their way of dealing with the dread of the future. The shrill tone and emotional violence of the Denialists' manner of debate gives the hint as to their stability. Tim knows that he will not reach these people by scary statistics and high anxiety. He is stepping away from pessimism and adopting an optimistic tone. But he hasn't abandoned his belief in the urgency of action on Climate Change.

PM’s Carbon Farming Initiative

The Federal Government conservatively predicts that farmers and landholders could make $500 million in 10 years under the new Carbon Farming Initiative released during the election campaign. Julia Giilard opened the door wider to farmers looking to earn carbon credits when she added “international markets” to the options facing farmers. This means carbon credits earned on-farm in Australia will be sold on the Mandatory Market where prices are always higher than in the Voluntary Market – the only market available to us until now.
The Carbon Farming Initiative covers more than seven potential revenue streams for farmers: reforestation, projects that avoid or reduce emissions from livestock, fertiliser use and manure management, savannah burning, legacy waste in landfill, and deforestation, as well as soil carbon and biochar.
Low hanging fruit for farmers is the avoided or reduced emissions from fertiliser. When it is applied, an amount of the Nitrogen in conventional fertilizer oxidizes and escapes as Nitrous Oxide. It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 300 times that of CO2. This is good news for farmers changing their fertilizer practices to reduce or eliminate N2O emissions. For every tonne of N2O avoided, you multiply the price of carbon (CO2-e) by the GWP (300). A methodology for this offset us currently before the Expert Panel for berification. We are confident of its success because it doesn’t have the same challenges for scientists around measurement and verification.
There is also likely to be a tradable unit for avoided methane emissions from waste management systems which divert organic matter from landfill where is emits methane. The aim is to encourage on-farm composting to recycle the green wastes.
Meanwhile the Government has joined a Global Research Alliance to ‘fast track’ soil carbon work. The Carbon Coalition has applied to become a Project Partner.

The $45.6 million cost of the Carbon Farming Initiative is already included in the Budget, through the Renewable Energy Future Fund.

$500m between 100,000 growers over 10 years

They described it as 'conservative", but this estimate of the income Australian farmers is as conservative as Tony Abbott!!! The Federal Government conservatively predicts that farmers and landholders could make $500 million in 10 years under the new Carbon Farming Initiative released during the election campaign. Julia Giilard opened the door wider to farmers looking to earn carbon credits when she added “international markets” to the options facing farmers. This means carbon credits earned on-farm in Australia will be sold on the Mandatory Market where prices are always higher than in the Voluntary Market – the only market available to us until now.
The Carbon Farming Initiative covers more than seven potential revenue streams for farmers: reforestation, projects that avoid or reduce emissions from livestock, fertiliser use and manure management, savannah burning, legacy waste in landfill, and deforestation, as well as soil carbon and biochar.
Low hanging fruit for farmers is the avoided or reduced emissions from fertiliser. When it is applied, an amount of the Nitrogen in conventional fertilizer oxidizes and escapes as Nitrous Oxide. It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 300 times that of CO2. This is good news for farmers changing their fertilizer practices to reduce or eliminate N2O emissions. For every tonne of N2O avoided, you multiply the price of carbon (CO2-e) by the GWP (300). A methodology for this offset us currently before the Expert Panel for berification. We are confident of its success because it doesn’t have the same challenges for scientists around measurement and verification.
There is also likely to be a tradable unit for avoided methane emissions from waste management systems which divert organic matter from landfill where is emits methane. The aim is to encourage on-farm composting to recycle the green wastes.
Meanwhile the Government has joined a Global Research Alliance to ‘fast track’ soil carbon work. The Carbon Coalition has applied to become a Project Partner.

The $45.6 million cost of the Carbon Farming Initiative is already included in the Budget, through the Renewable Energy Future Fund.

YOUR PRESENCE IS REQUESTED

YOUR PRESENCE IS REQUESTED

At The 4th Annual Carbon Farming Conference
Dubbo NSW, 27-28 October 2010

CONGRATULATIONS!

With your support
we won the promise of
Soil Carbon Credits,
Methane Carbon Credits, and
Nitrous Oxide Carbon Credits

The Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative promises to fast track preparations to trade on international markets. Good News, but we need to keep up the pressure.

Register today for the Carbon Farming Conference & Expo to show your support and enjoy the only gathering dedicated to reconstructing the health of soils, farm landscapes and rural communities by safe, ethical trading in soil carbon and other on-farm emissions reductions.

REGISTER ONLINE AT WWW.CARBONFARMINGCONFERENCE.COM.AU
OR CALL 02 6374 0329

CONFERENCE PROGRAM DAY 1

GOOD NEWS FOR FARMERS

The Carbon Farming Initiative will reward farmers with several possible new revenue streams: reforestation, reducing emissions from livestock, fertiliser use, and deforestation, as well as soil carbon and biochar.

9.00am – Welcome to Country. Welcome to City – Mayor Allan Smith

9.10am - The Government’s New Carbon Farming Initiative –When do we start? – Maya Stuart-Fox, Director, Emerging Policy , Land Division of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

9.40am – Six Configured Units Ready To Roll – Methodologies for Farm Carbon Trading Units - Ken Bellamy, Prime Carbon has invested heavily in building Kyoto-aligned trading protocols

10.10am – Making It Happen - Landcare’s Role In The Carbon Farming Initiative – Brett de Hayr, National Landcare Facilitator explains how Landcare will help farmers learn about the Carbon Farming Initiative

10.40am – Panel Discussion – Q&A on the Governments Carbon Farming Initiative, Methodologies, Time frames.

11.00am - Morning Tea

MEASUREMENT: SOIL CARBON FAST-TRACKED

The Government promised that it would ‘fast track’ research to overcome the barriers to trading soil carbon when it announced the latest $46.5m for Carbon Farming. What strides has Science made in 12 months.?

11.30am - How Will The Soil Carbon Research Program Assist Trading? - Dr Jeff Baldock, CSIRO Land & Water reports on the progress on the program we helped fund (by lobbying) to the tune of $20m.

12.00pm - Must We Wait for Science? - Professor Annette Cowie, National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research explores an interim proposal and explains an opportunity to be part of the next round of soil carbon research.

12.30pm - A Single Soil Carbon Score For A Property? - Professor Alex McBratney, University of Sydney – The Race is on to find the cost effective, reliable measurement method.

1.00pm – Soil Scientists Super Summit - Andrea Koch, United States Study Centre is organising a meeting of eminent scientists to discuss soil carbon

1.10pm – Lunch

CARBON COCKIES LEAD THE WAY

Farmers have led innovation in land management. These innovations are judged by the criterion “It works for me” and are spread by observation across the boundary fence.

2.00pm – From the Amazon’s Terra Preta to Australian Soils - Biochar’s Future Options - Patrice Newell, Farmer, Activist, Author, reports on her visit to the birthplace of biochar.

2.20pm – Carbon Cockies drive innovation - Simon Proust (MC) presents Carbon Catchment Highlights: Central West and Northern Rivers - A Carbon Cockie One Year On: Matt Barton - - Farmer Teaching Farmer: Little River LandCare

3.20pm Afternoon Tea

KEEPING THE MONEY IN THE REGIONS

Regional-based businesses will be able to buy offsets from local farmers. Farmers, in turn, may be able to purchase soil amendments from regional-based businesses, such as composts, inoculants, stimulants, chars and coal-based soil carbon promoters.

3.50pm – A Regional Trading Model – Helping Big Emitters Spread The Wealth In Rural Communities – Louisa Kiely, Orana Regional Development Committee

4.10pm – Carbon Footprints Could Lead to Local Win-Win - Robert Bower, TwinN Mabiotec explains how soil carbon missed an opportunity to supply offsets to his company when it decided to go carbon neutral.

4.40pm - Markets Could Look Like This: Market-Based Instrument Pilot – Dr Jason Crean, NSW DI&I reports on the project simulating a trading environment for farmers.


5.00pm WINE AND CHEESE TASTING IN THE MAIN HALL



7.00pm Conference Awards Dinner

Networking Dinner

MC: Michael Kiely On Climate Change:

“Fear Makes Me Say Funny Things”

2010 Carbon Cocky Awards

Climate Change Songwriting & Poetry Competition

Can you write a song or bush ballad about Climate Change? Bring it along.


CONFERENCE PROGRAM DAY 2

While Food Security is focussed on growing enough food to feed the world, Food Integrity describes the nutrient density of the food. Healthy soil is the beginning of the virtuous circle – soil, food, people.

HEALTHY SOILS, HEALTHY FOOD, HEALTHY PEOPLE

9.00am - Health Starts In The Soil - Dr Carole Hungerford, Farmer/ Medical Practitioner/Author explains how many modern ailments can be explained by the decline in soil health and its impact on nutrition.

9.30am - “Miracle Cure Led Me To Soil Health” - Rhonda Daly, YLAD Living Soils explains how a health issue taught her the power of soil to deliver wellbeing.

9.50am - Beyond Organic: Certified Soil Rich Foods - Ian Golding, Beyond Organics has developed a method for measuring the nutrient value of soils and the food grown in them.

10.20am – Introducing Healthy Soils Australia - Tom Nicholas, Chairman explains

10.30am Morning Tea

SOIL HEALTH + OFFSETS

Low hanging fruit among offsets for farmers is the avoided or reduced emissions from fertiliser. When it is applied, an amount of the Nitrogen in conventional fertilizer oxidizes and escapes as Nitrous Oxide. It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 300 times that of CO2. This is good news for farmers changing their fertilizer practices. For every tonne of N2O avoided, you multiply the price of carbon (CO2-e) by the GWP (300).

11.00am - Low Cost/No Odour On Farm Composting - Gerry Gillespie, NSW DECCW Compost can create odor and take a great deal of turning to reach its point of peak effectiveness. But a new on-farm system eliminates both problems. Spray inoculant over the compost and it turns itself,

11.20am – Compost’s Promise of Soil Carbon - Darren Fahey, Waste Management Association of Australia.

11.40pm Coal Ash As Fertiliser - Dr Jane Aitken, Conneq Infrastructure Services - Coal or fly ash is available in vast quantities because power stations have mountains of by-product after coal is burned, most of which is buried in landfill. Scientists are testing different combinations to make controlled release fertiliser.



12.50pm – Cheap char? Chailings – Processed Coal Tailings - Adele Calandra GSSEnvironmental. Chailings is charcoal made from coal mine tailings. Farmers have proved for themselves that production can be boosted by the application of raw coal dust. Chailings are processed for greater effectiveness.

1.10pm Lunch

2.00pm - INTERNATIONAL SPEAKER: Make Your Own Fertiliser As You Till - Gary Lewis, BioAgtive Canada Exhaust fume burial is a novel approach to disposing of emissions by processing them into a fertiliser and wrapping them around the seed.

2.20pm - Australia’s Own Exhaust Burial Technology - Daniel Linkleter, Riverina farmer

2.40pm – INTERNATIONAL SPEAKER: Trigger Technologies: Affordable Broadacre Biology - Jim Watson, Best Environmental Technology, Canada reports that soil biology stimulants or ‘triggers’ work by ‘waking up’ native microbes rather than by delivering the microbes to the soil. This means the stimulant can be delivered in a spray pass with herbicides.

ENERGY FARMING OPTIONS

To be a Carbon Farmer is to manage Carbon Cycles – in soils, in vegetation, in animals and in biomass, wind and energy.

3.00pm - Growing Fuel Crops - John Larkin, Demand Farming explains how growing energy crops can fit into a farmer’s business.

3.20pm – Afternoon Tea

3.50pm – On-Farm Solar Opportunities: Risks and Returns – Dr Iain McGregor, Solar Choice reveals the opportunities for generating additional revenue while generating energy.

4.10pm – Water Dynamics: Reading The Landscape – Paul Newell, Landsmanship, introduces a revolutionary approach to farm planning.

4.30pm – Carbon Farming Australia: The Industry Association – Michael Kiely



CARBON FARMERS ASSOCIATION

For 5 years the Carbon Coalition has campaigned for the rights of farmers to grow and trade soil carbon safely and ethically. In that time Government has shifted its position away from a very negative, damaging attitude – farmers were to pay for all animal and fertiliser-based emissions with no access to soil carbon credits – to a very positive outcome where soil carbon offsets are government and opposition policy and reductions in methane and nitrogen emissions are to be rewarded rather than enforced. We are close to success but many obstacles remain in the way and need a dedicated voice keeping Government honest in delivering the promise. The Carbon Coalition has been entirely funded by the Convenors and a small group of benfactors. The time has come for it to become a registered association. The Carbon Farmers’ Association offers the following benefits for members: 1. Advocacy for members’ access to carbon markets through a range of offsets, including soil carbon, methane, nitrogen emissions and others. 2. Advice on contracts, risks and likely returns. 3. Education and training to maximise the business opportunities and assist in risk management in trading. 4. An On-line Library offering access to deep resources of information on carbon farming. 5. Regular newsletter – The Carbon Farmer – to Conferences alert members to opportunities. 6. Discounts on and seminars. 7. Discounts on Books and magazines. 8. Ethical trading services – Soil Carbon Baselining, Aggregation, Sub-Aggregation of Small Holdings and Brokerage, with fees invested in Assocation services, and retiring credits on first transaction to avoid exploitative on-selling. 9. Networking with like-minded people in a community of common purpose. 10. If scientists like Tim Flannery, the Wentworth Group, Professor Rattan Lal and even the CSIRO’s Michael Battaglia are to be believed, sequestration in soil and vegetation on a grand scale is essential to avoiding the worst effects of Global Warming as we transition to new energy sources for baseload supply. If this is so, farmers have more leverage in this commodity market than any other and can be price-makers rather than price takers, their usual role. And your membership fee could be the best investment you could make in a future that does not look like a scene from Mad Max.

The Carbon Farmers’ Association will be launched formally at the Carbon Farming Conference. To register interest or for more information please call

02 6374 0329. Or 0417 280 540.
Email Louisa@carboncoalition.com.au