Friday, May 18, 2012

Could you be on the Positive List?

Could your product or practice be eligible to appear on the Carbon Farming Initiative Positive List? Companies and individuals who have innovative carbon farming practices or products that reduce emissions or sequester carbon can apply. The benefits for you are these: 1. Being on the Positive List certifies that your product or practice is not common practice and that emissions avoided or sequestered via them have been declared "Additional" by the Minister. 2. Being on the Positive list means your product or practice can be used as part of a 'methodology' for a offsets project under the Carbon Farming Initiative. (The Government recently announced grants to help innovators write up their brilliant products and practices into methodologies (or "meths"), with the help of scientists and other experts. 3. You could earn royalties every time your innovation is used, if you have genuine intellectual property in your "meth". Go to the Positive List page on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website, download the Positive List Guidelines and the short Positive List Proposal Form and fill it out. It is easy to be confused. For instance, the Guidelines state that offsets "will not be available for projects that are required by law" in one place, and "activities that are required by law" will be listed "in some circumstances"in another. So, if your product or practice is mandated by regulation, don't let that stop you. Contact the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on (02) 6159 7000 to ask what those "circumstances" are. The other barrier to listing is "common practice" - ie. if the activity is already widely adopted. It is assumed that once between 10% and 30% of landholders in a location or industry or "environment" have taken up the practice - in order to earn offsets - the balance will adopt it without the incentive of the offsets and therefore the emissions avoided or sequestered resulting would have happened anyway and are therefore not additional. An activity can be uncommon for all sorts of reasons: it is unusual in certain regions; it is unusual on the scale proposed; it is unusual at a particular time; it is a genuine variant of an activity. "The activity must be carefully defined to allow for an accurate assessment of whether or not it is not already common," says the Guidelines. This means you should be very specific defining your activity. It is recommended that you identify a relevant comparison group of non-users to "capture the circumstances in which the activity is uncommon". The Government will be surveying farmers every couple of years to get a picture of penetration of activities. This is important to understand: your activity can be delisted as soon as it looks like being a success. But the benefits of being on the Positive List outweigh the difficulties.

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