Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Dale Enerson, Director of the US National Farmers Union's Carbon Credit Program asked us about the Abbott soil carbon proposal: "Supposedly there would not be trading, but a set price by the government?" He is right. It is not trading, sos the price mechanism will not operate.

The Abbott Model for soil carbon is too sketchy to judge properly, but there are some fundamentals you cannot overlook:
1. The “Practical Action” strategy is Howard-like. When the electorate want something that you don’t believe in, do something trivial but visible to make them think something serious is being done.
2. As part of such a strategy, soil carbon might not last beyond the first term of an Abbott Government in its Government-funded form. There is no doubting the sincerity of Greg Hunt, shadow minister for Climate Change. He believes Climate Change is real.
3. A Market is the best form of incentive reward because it lasts beyond the next election, it is something farmers know and appreciate, and it offers a farmer more dignity to be paid for what they grow instead of getting Government handout money.

To achieve our goals for the planet, we need 85% of the agricultural lands involved in sustainable land management practices. The trade is not the main game. It is the attention-getter. It is the behaviour change device. But the main game is not just behaviour change for a period on a plot. It is culture change. This comes when a farmer learns how it feels to work in a carbon rich environment. And comes to understand the co-benefits – healthy soils, fertility, lower inputs, water efficiency, productivity, etc.

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