The Government says it wants broad involvement in the Carbon Farming Initiative, but the Bill puts several blocks in the way of farmer involvement:
• FACT 1: The 100 Year Permanence requirement puts such risk on the individual farmer that few are likely to get involved.
• FACT 2: The 100 Years Rule is not based on anything technical, such as the time CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere. (That would make it the 55 Year Rule, 55 years being the projected decay horizon of CO2.) 100 years is an arbitrary figure, plucked out of the air by the IPCC as a yardstick for comparing the potency of different Greenhouse Gases.
• FACT 3: The IPCC and the VCS have both approved periods such as 20, 25 and 60 years for biosequestration projects.
• FACT 4: 100 Years is a fiction. Offsets that rely on renewable energy to avoid emissions from burning coal are no more secure than those based on soil because no one can guarantee that the coal not burned today will not be dug up and burned at any time in the next 100 years. Yet offsets from avoided emissions do not need to guarantee the offset’s integrity for 100 years.
• FACT 5: The “Common Practice” Additionality requirement has the potential to exclude more than half the number of farmers in any district from earning offsets of any kind.
• FACT 6: Landcare farmers are very likely to be excluded from soil carbon offsets due to the “Business As Usual” Additionality requirement.
• FACT 7: To this day there is no scientific proof that grazing management works. Peer-reviewed science has proved many times that it is incapable of replicating the results that farmers get using Carbon farming techniques. Yet the limits of our sequestration potential are being set by peer-reviewed science.
• FACT 8: “There’s a virtual consensus among soil scientists that Australian farmers shouldn’t need any extra incentives to increase their levels of soil carbon,” according to CSIRO’s ECOS magazine. Does this explain why there is so little science supporting soil carbon sequestation?
Each of these facts punches a hole in the Kyoto Protocol’s façade of scientific integrity. Its rules are based on fictions and prejudice. The same flexibility that it allows itself should be allowed to soil carbon sequestration. Otherwise it will defeat the purpose of the Legislation.