Monday, July 26, 2010

Business groups attack soil carbon trade

The Australian Industry Group recently argued against soil carbon trading with the following statement: “If we rely on abatement that is not recognised as meeting Australia’s commitments, we must either undertake additional abatement at further expense, or risk undermining the international framework that justifies the cost of abatement.” The Group made two mistakes. Mistake 1: Confusing the Mandatory Market (under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) with the Voluntary Market (under the National Carbon Offset Standard). Soil Carbon Offsets will initially only be available on the Voluntary Market. As the word 'voluntary' implies, no one is forced to purchase these offsets. As well, there is no 'further abatement' or 'additional expense' because there is no mandatory market. The second mistake is to refer to 'undermining' the Kyoto principles which 'justify the cost of abatement'. Two things: 1. Kyoto was not set in stone when it was formulated. It was designed for the first trial periods and was always meant to be revised. It has been discovered that the emissions-centric nature of the model does not do justice to Agriculture and a powerful alliance of Governments and NGOs (USA, EU, World Bank, etc.) are seeking a new, separate set of provisions for the sector that recognise the fact that carbon is both emitted and captured in a biological environment 2. The current prices of offsets around the world make the statement a little humorous.

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