Sunday, February 18, 2007

"What everybody knows"

"A new idea is first condemned as ridiculous, and then dismissed as trivial until it finally becomes what everybody knows." So said William James.

Soil Carbon Credits is quickly becoming what everybody knows. The subject started as the private obsession of a few fringe lunatics, including Dr Christine Jones ("The Carbon Goddess") and John Lawrie (Soils Officer with the Central West Catchment Management Authority). They infected a small group of"carbon farmers" in the central west who launched the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming and published The Soil Carbon Manifesto in February 2006.

The Manifesto stated:

Carbon Coalition is a group of concerned Australians who believe the globe is facing a crisis of CO2 overload leading to Global Warming and that one of the most effective strategies for locking up carbon in our atmosphere is to be found in fostering deep-rooted plant species on land used for agriculture.

We urge governments and the business community to acknowledge the role that agricultural soils can play in addressing the Global Warming crisis. Farmers can play a central role in sequestering carbon in their soils by fostering deep-rooted perennial plant species that have significant biomass in their root systems.

Soil biomass is a natural carbon sink and should be used to create carbon credits which can be traded alongside those currently traded for forests.

That was 12 months ago. Despite being ignored by the media and treated with suspicion by many - and large1y shunned by the scientific community - the cracks are appearing in the walls of Jerico:

The Cracks:

1. John Williams, Commissioner for Natural Resources in NSW, announces on ABC TV NSW Statewide (9/2/07) - see transcript on ABC site - that farmers should be paid $25/tonne for soil carbon.

2. After two separate breifing sessions with the C arbon CVoalition, 6 months apart, Jock Laurie (NSW Farmers) calls for the same thing on the same program. (These are the first public statements in support of our position.)

3. The Conservation Agriculture Association of Australia and NZ (covering all the no tillfarmers' associations) have been invited to sign an MOU with wholesaler/retailer Carbon Planet by their South Australian members.

4. The NSW CMAs plan to become soil carbon pool managers and brokers. It turns out the NSW DPI has been studying the potential since September 2006. (See point 2 under "NSW Government invests $2.5million in climate research" (21 September 2006) at

5. Landcare signed a deal with Carbon Traders to broker remnant vegetation on farms, and this will naturally morph into a soil carbon relationship.

6. The Carbon Coalition was consulted by Andrew Fraser, NSW National MP, shadow minister for forests etc. re soil carbon and he indicated his party would be taking it into the election as party platform.

7. The federal government is taking the time to attack us. (Always a good sign)

8. There is a race on between up to 10 project groups trying to crack the secret to measurement/monitoring/verification of soil C for trading.

9. The NSW DPI announced a $246,000 study of the role of pastures in locking up carbon under a range of management practices in central and southern NSW.

We have come a long way in 12 months, but we still have a long way to go.

A big thank you to all those people in positions of influence who stuck their necks out for a fair go for soil carbon credits. It's too early to identify you. You know who you are.

No comments: