If you want to take part in the Carbon Farming Initiative, you might be confused by two lists released on 25 May, 2011 by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency at the request of the Senate Committee inquiring into the CFI Legislation. There is a ‘positive list’ and a ‘negative list’ – the first is a menu of practices that might be deemed to be ‘additional’ and therefore acceptable to the Government, and the negative list might be deemed otherwise. Confusing because none of the practices listed have been given the OK to use a particular methodology. One – to do with burning savannahs – has a ‘meth’ up for public discussion. But does the list contain ‘sure things’ on the basis that they are not common practice? Time will tell - but this must be a clue. (Both lists appear below.)
What should the Government do?
As the Senate Committee reported: “To prevent progressive farmers from being penalised for practices they currently use to sequester carbon, the CFTA recommended farmers be eligible for credits for carbon they create in addition to a baseline, irrespective of the method(s) they use to do so.” (Michael Kiely, Chairman, CFTA, Proof Committee Hansard, 20 April 2011, p. 20.)
Illustrative example of Positive List of Additional practices
The types of activities which might be on the positive list include but are not limited to:
• establishment of a permanent environmental planting since 1 July 2007 (with a planted area greater than one hectare);
• establishment of trees for biomass energy;
• application of biochar to soil;
• capture and combustion of methane from legacy waste;
• early burning of savannahs to reduce the intensity and frequency of fires (burnt area greater than one square kilometre);
• culling feral camels;
• reducing enteric fermentation by livestock by:
• using tannins as a feed supplement for cattle;
• incorporating Eremophila in livestock feed (Eremophila is a genus of Australian native plants commonly known as "emu bush" or "poverty bush".);
• manipulating the gut flora in livestock; and
• selective breeding of livestock to reduce residual feed intake;
• capture and combustion of methane from manure;
• application of urea inhibitors to manure to reduce nitrification;
• application of nitrification inhibitors to fertiliser; and
• projects that have been assessed as additional under the Greenhouse Friendly program.
Illustrative example of Negative List of non-Additional practices
The types of activities which might be on the negative list include but are not limited to:
• Establishment of a forest - Interception of ground water as forests grow is likely to reduce water availability for other uses including environmental watering. The relevant jurisdiction does not have an accredited regime for meeting their National Water Initiative commitments to adequately manage water interception by plantations; and The proponent does not hold the appropriate high security water access entitlement to offset the plantations water use over the entire life of the plantation; and The project area is in a zone that receives more than 600mm annual rainfall, or more than 800mm if it also overlays a shallow saline groundwater table; and The total forested area for the project is greater than 2 ha; and The forest is not a permanent environmental planting.
• Establishment of a forest - Distortions to markets for agricultural land, resulting from the additive effects of up•front tax incentives and carbon revenue for commercial (harvest) plantings. Forest was established as a Managed Investment Scheme.
• Establishment of forest or non•forest vegetation. Land clearing to establish new carbon sink forests. Land was cleared of vegetation after 30 June 2008 or within three years of project commencement (whichever is more recent).
• Establishment of forest or non•forest vegetation. Draining swamps to establish new carbon sink plantings. A swamp was drained after 30 June 2008 or within three years of project commencement (whichever is more recent).
• Establishment of forest or non•forest vegetation. While weed species may sequester carbon, they create adverse environmental impacts on their local environment. Where species being established is a declared weed species in that jurisdiction.
• Cessation or avoidance of logging, clearing, clear•felling and selective harvest in monoculture plantations. Monoculture forests degrade over time as biomass moves to the debris pool and then decays. These forests can become a net source of emissions. Project involves foregone harvesting of a monoculture plantation forest.
• Cessation or avoidance of logging, including clearing, clear•felling and selective harvest in native forests. Landholders may seek to have covenants revoked in order to receive carbon credits. This would create risks for the environment. The area of land was under an in•perpetuity covenant prior to 24 March 2011, when the CFI legislation was introduced
• Any CFI activity - Governments may be pressured to repeal regulations to allow more activities to access CFI credits. This would create risks for the environment. Project was required by law prior to 24 March 2011, when the CFI legislation was introduced.
For information about the Carbon Farming Conference & Expo and other Carbon Farming Week activities, click here.
For information about the Carbon Farming & Trading Association, click here.