Saturday, September 24, 2011

Into the hands of the money-changers??

By trying to protect buyers of carbon offsets from sharks and spivs, it looks like the Government has delivered farmers bound hand and foot into the hands of the money market middlemen by giving them control of the carbon offsets market. By declaring Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) to be “financial products”, the Government has decided that only those with an Australian Financial Services Licence can sell offsets or give farmers advice about the offsets they earn. These licences are difficult and expensive to get and require that the holder have significant financial resources to operate.
This decision means a farmer can’t sell their units except through a licence-holder. So all those organizations looking for an income stream from aggregating or pooling units into parcels of suitable size to be traded – the Landcare groups, the farmers groups, those thinking of forming into cooperatives, consultancies with large client bases – will find there is a snout in the trough when they get there. Not only will the return to the farmer be reduced by extra costs, but compliance costs will include time spent training and auditing everyone involved in the process.
This decision also adds a fourth layer of bureaucracy to this market mechanism, the others being the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee, the Carbon Credits Administrator, and the Land Sector Carbon and Biodiversity Advisory Board. As well regional NRM bodies are being given a ‘guidance’ role with farmers wanting to get involved.
Does the decision to treat an offset unit as a financial product instead of as a commodity guarantee that there will be derivative markets formed in which traders will make more money out of them than the farmers who created them? (This is a common fear expressed by farmers.)
Among the laws that were changed to protect buyers included those against money laundering by the Mafia or terrorists. Where are the laws to protect farmers against those they fear more than terrorists or gangsters: the market sharks?

No comments: