Friday, July 20, 2007

Methane: There's good news and bad news

"A Swedish study in 2003 suggested that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy," reports New Scientist in its latest issue. (We're chasing the reference. Any clues?) This is important because the 'science' we've seen so far says the opposite.

Scientists have a natural green bent, it appears. Under the headldine, "Meat is murder on the environment", the magazine that a "kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home."

It goes on... "This is among the conclusions of a study by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and colleagues, which has assessed the effects of beef production on global warming, water acidification and eutrophication, and energy consumption." They counted the full lifecycle of the emissions caused by transporting special feed to those animals lot fed. It also included calf production. Combining this information with data from studies on the impact fattening systems, they calculated the total environmental load of a portion of beef.

Producing a kilogram of beef involves emissions equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide. "It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy," says the report. (Animal Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2007.00457.x). "In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."

Most emissions invove methane released from the animals' digestive systems. More than 75% of the energy is used to produce and transport the animals' feed.

Suggestions include better waste management. Shortening the time before next calving by one month can reduce the total load by nearly 6%.

"Everybody is trying to come up with different ways to reduce carbon footprints," says the UK's Vegetarian Society;"But one of the easiest things you can do is to stop eating meat."

New Scientist, Issue 261318, July 2007


Methane from Australian animals is equivalent to emissions from the entire Transport Industry, according to the AGO. We will be searching for answers to the following questions:

1. The PM's Task Force recommended that agriculture remain out of the trading scheme because of the difficulty of measuring emissions on farms. Is the claim about the magnitude of the farm sector's methane emissions based on modelled estimations?

2. What base data was used to run the model? Where did it come from?

3. Is it true that the team working on the N2O emissions (which had also been modelled for an estimation of the industry's contribution to greenhouse gases when it applies fertilisers) found the base data upon which the model operated was way out because it came from the Northern Hemisphere?

4. Is it possible the Methane figures will be similarly out of kilter if they come frokm ourside Australia?

5. Would it be useful to have practicing growers sanity check scientific methodologies that aim to reproduce real farm conditions to avoid skewing outsomes by inappropriate approaches or interpretations?

6. Is the use of such high emission figures (unverified) aimed to convince landholders to comply with the "Best Practice/Benchmarking" approach while being shut out of the carbon market?

Jock speaks up

The NSW Farmers’ Association President Jock Laurie has used his official address to Annual Conference to call on the Federal Government to include agriculture in its carbon emissions plans, and recognise what farmers’ have already achieved.

“As an issue, Global Warming obviously is controversial. But as an industry we need to not be scared, get involved in the debate, and fight so we’re not left out of the equation,” Mr Laurie said.

“The Prime Minister has endorsed the carbon market design recommended by the Taskforce on emissions trading, but this design shields the energy sector and shifts the costs of meeting emissions targets onto ordinary consumers and farmers,” Mr Laurie said.

“The Government can talk about reductions in emissions in Australia, but this was primarily due to clearing laws that prevented farmers from developing their land.
“This saving was achieved at zero cost to government and a cost of billions of dollars to family farmers,” Mr Laurie said. “The Federal Government cannot ignore agriculture – we will not be left out of the debate,” Mr Laurie concluded.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on "Guilt"

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

April 11 2007
Georgetown University

So someone the other day just showed me a cartoon that was of a car salesman in a showroom talking to this couple. And the car salesman pointed at the car and said, "This car runs on an ordinary gasoline-powered engine, and then when it feels a little guilt, when it senses guilt, it switches over to battery power." Now, that’s funny, it’s a cartoon. But let me tell you something; there’s a lot of truth to that. For too long the environmental movement had been powered by guilt. 

But I believe that this is about to switch over from being powered by guilt to being powered by something much more positive, much more dynamic, something much more capable of bringing about major change. You know the kind of guilt I’m talking about; the smokestacks belching pollution that are powering our Jacuzzis and our big-screen TVs, and in my case powering my private airplanes. So it is too bad, of course, that we can’t all live simple lives like the Buddhist monks in Tibet. But you know something? That’s not going to happen. 

So ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think that any movement has ever made it and has ever made much progress based on guilt. Guilt is passive, guilt is inhibiting, and guilt is defensive. You remember the commercials a number of years ago, the commercials specifically of a Native American who sees what we have done to the environment and then a tear runs down his cheek. You all remember that? Well, let me tell you something; that approach didn’t work, because successful movements are built on passion, they’re not built on guilt. They’re built on passion, they’re built on confidence, and they’re built on critical mass. And often, they’re built on an element of alarm that galvanizes action. 

The environmental movement is, to use a popular term, about the tipping point. It’s about to get to the tipping point. There’s a tipping point, and I believe the tipping point will be occurring when the environmental movement is no longer seen as a nag or as a scold, but as a positive force in people’s lives.

Costello says "Not me" to farmers on credits

The Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello is now "clarifying" clear statements made on ABCTV last month that "we stopped land clearing": He now says, "The Federal Government didn't stop land clearing, the Queensland government stopped land clearing." Rubbing salt into the wounds of victims Alastair McRoberts and Peter Spencer and their supporters, the Treasurer said compensation could have been possible, but blamed the QLD Government: "At the time, the Federal Government had been prepared to discuss with landholders compensation as part of its policy in relation to land clearing. But that never came about because the Beattie Government unilaterally stopped land clearing and didn't wait to get an agreement with the Commonwealth or with the farmers concerned."
The Treasurer said some farmers could find some recompense in tax deductions for planting trees: "I think, while not for all farmers of course, for some farmers this could prove a very interesting business proposal."


If compensation was possible then, why is it not possible now?

If the Commonwealth Government can take over State Governments' control of education, water rights, indigenous affairs, etc., why can't it intervene in vegetation regulations on behalf of landholders' rights?

What is happening to the legal rights of people in Australia under the Commonwealth Government that can 'nationalise' areas of native vegetation while 'privatising' the losses?

Do AUSTRALIAN farmers have the same Land Rights as Aboriginal Australians?

Right to sue over loss of land title

Patricia Karvelas | July 03, 2007
Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said that people who lost land title as he implemented the takeover of 73 indigenous communities in the Northern Territory would have the same legal rights as anybody facing "compulsory acquisition". Asked to explain fair compensation yesterday, Mr Brough said the commonwealth had the power to acquire property from any state or person on the condition it paid just terms.
He said just terms was generally described as full and adequate compensation. It could be agreed upon by the parties or determined by a court."This will be handled in exactly the same manner that we handle any other compulsory acquisition - in accordance with the constitution and the law," Mr Brough said. "If any party is unhappy or a resolution can't be reached between the parties, the law provides for it to be determined by an independent third party, namely the courts."

US House of Reps to vote on soil carbon trading system

17.07.07 Interview: US Farm Bill to create carbon credit standards

The House of Representatives will this week consider a proposal to establish a standard for carbon sequestration from land management and agriculture in the US, moving the country a step closer to creating carbon credits that could be used in a future greenhouse gas trading scheme. 

A subsection of the US Farm Bill, the main US law on agricultural land use that is revised and renewed by Congress every five years, proposes creating an Environmental Services Standards Board that would "facilitate the development of credit markets for conservation and land management activities that are agriculture or forest-based."
According to Carl Lucero of the natural resources conservation service in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), establishing this type of board is necessary because it would create consistency in preparation for a national greenhouse gas emissions market.
"We are trying to build the infrastructure so these free markets can work," Lucero told Point Carbon, explaining that the environmental commodities being traded are "abstract."
"We need uniform standards so that when a market does evolve the players understand what all the rules are," he said.
Lucero has been leading the USDA's effort to draft a section on market-based approaches for environmental stewardship in the 2007 Farm Bill, which the House will begin to mark up – or open for amendments and comments – on Tuesday.
"Right now what we are seeing is that a lot of states are developing their own (carbon) caps, rules, and processes - but on a broader scale it doesn't make sense to have different caps or standards," Lucero told Point Carbon. "But with consistency we would create validity and confidence in the market."
Lucero said establishing the standards would benefit those who own the land where carbon can be sequestered. The USDA provides financial and technical assistance to private landowners, like ranchers and farmers, who own 75 per cent of land in the US.
While the goal of his agency's work is to achieve environmental benefits, the establishment of these standards would "open a great opportunity to connect the energy sector to what we do."
Under potential mandatory carbon caps, power companies could buy credits for carbon reductions achieved in the agricultural sector to comply with emissions constraints.
Under the bill, the secretary of agriculture would be responsible for ensuring the development of consistent standards for quantifying environmental benefits and for establishing reporting and credit registries, which could include third-party verifiers.
The secretary would also serve as the chairman of the standards board, whose members would include the energy, interior, commerce and transportation secretaries, as well as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to Lucero, the agency is asking for $50 million (€36.3 million) to establish the board, which would distribute grants competitively to universities and researchers to assist the agriculture department make the most accurate set of standards.
"We need all the players who have control over those natural resources to be at the table with us," he said.
The board would quantify other environmental commodities for which markets exist, including water quality credits, the other greenhouse gases and wetlands banking.
Next Steps
Although the House and Senate will debate their own versions of the 2007 Farm Bill, Lucero said that both drafts contain sections on creating market-based approaches for environmental goods and services and an Environmental Services Standards Board.
The agriculture department held 52 Farm Bill forums across the country to get feedback on all titles of the legislation, and found widespread support for the creation of a standards board.
"Once you've got standards, it brings transparency to the market," Lucero said. "If you use the same process to measure carbon in California as you do in Illinois and in Florida, then the transparency is simple and you begin to have a more fluid market."
Washington DC

PS Thanks to Tony Lovell for passing this on...

All aboard the Carbon credits Express

“Carbon craze sparks AgForce initiative” reads the headline in Queensland Country Life…

Inaction will see farmers caught “like rabbits paralysed in the spotlight” , the state’s peak primary industry lobby group says producers stand to pay the price unless they can be included in the carbon debate – “currently the hottest issue in the climate change controversy.”

AgForce’s plane includes:

• Recognising agriculture in general, specifically Queensland, has already reduced emissions.

• Reinforcing the need for Federal Government to develop a fair trading market so producers can benefit from carbon ‘sinks’ on their properties.

• Responsibly organising Queensland farmers to ensure they emerge as key players in any developing emissions trading market.

NSWFarmers’ President Jock Laurie said much the same thing several days before at the Association’s conference in Sydney.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Grains Council and the AGO data gap


Here is a point by point refutation of the Grains Council's hatchet job on soil carbon credits (appended below). It was all over the rural media. I have to reassure our constituency by immediate response.




The Grains Council is misusing Australian Greenhouse Office science to attack the emerging soil carbon credit market.

“The AGO does not have the data to back up the Grains Council's claims about Australian soils,” says Convenor of the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming, Wellington woolgrower Michael Kiely. The Carbon Coalition has campaigned for soil carbon credits for 18 months to give farmers an additional revenue stream to encourage landscape restoration.

“We reported more than a month ago that the data sets used to compile the reports on soils for National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS) were incomplete and that they were incapable of sustaining the conclusions people were drawing,” he says. “We warned the AGO that conclusions based on these data sets are misleading and wrong. Alan Umber’s report is flawed due to his reliance on this data.”

The evidence is available in the NCAS Technical Reports.

"The scientists did a brilliant job with limited resources. And they qualify their findings vigorously, seeking to limit the potential for misunderstanding. But no amount of qualification could protect the data from being dramatically misconstrued to slander Australian soils and attack plans to launch the soil carbon market," he says.

The Grains Council Report is wrong on 9 counts:


“Our soils are very old, very fragile, very thin, very weathered. Often we are running soils with 1% or less carbon.” (ABCRadio Country Hour, 11 July, 2007)


Generalisations about Australians soils are dangerous. Alpine soils can contain around 10% soil carbon, and desert soils around 0.5%. Soils tested for soils workshops with farmers at Mudgee and Rylstone have between 0.9% and 7% Carbon and averaging 2.2% at Mudgee and 2.7% at Rylstone.

One percent of carbon is not an insignificant amount. One percent in a 30cm of topsoil soil can translate into 42 tonnes of soil carbon which equates to 154 tonnes of CO2. (The conversion of Carbon to Carbon Dioxide: C x 3.67 = CO2)


“The limited potential for Australian soils to increase levels of organic carbon, with estimates by many scientists of less than 100kg per hectare per year, even under the most effective non irrigated farming systems.”


No AGO research has studied the “potential” of Australian soils to take up carbon. Most official studies recorded poor carbon performance because they studied only traditional techniques which are destructive of soil carbon.

“They didn’t find it because they weren’t looking for it,” says Mr Kiely. There were no advanced farming practices – such as time controlled grazing, pasture cropping, biological farming – included in the official studies.


“You can lift soil carbon 0.001% a year if you’re lucky.” (ABC Radio Country Hour, 11 July, 2007)


This statement is based on out-of-date data. Cases that are in the pipeline for reporting include the following:

1. Pasture cropping/time controlled grazing combination in Central West NSW that has recorded a 100% increase in soil carbon to 4% over a decade, with most of the growth in the last few years.

2. A till-to-no-till case in Albany, WA where an increase from 4% to 6% was achieved in 3 years.

3. A 20 year study of till-to-no-till techniques at Wagga NSW recorded a gain of 12 tonnes of carbon per hectare, or 0.6%C per year.

Other projects studying ‘carbon farming’ techniques include a NSW Department of Primary Industries $246,000 climate action project to study the role of pastures in locking up carbon under a range of management practices in central and southern NSW and high profile carbon sequestration studies using combinations of carbon farming techniques in 3 states, funded by coal mining interests, including Rio Tinto Coal.


“Normal farming practices emit greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, with the latter having a global warming potential equal to 310 times that of CO2.”


“Normal farming practices” are no guide to the potential of land management to make a difference. “Carbon Farming Practices” reduce emissions of CO2 and NO2 and enable the farmer to ‘grow’ carbon to offset their emissions.


“Any carbon trading scheme will require farmers to show that increased organic carbon will have to remain permanently in the soil for up to 70 or more years”


The 100 Year Rule applies to forests. But on the biggest carbon exchange trading farm soils – the Chicago Climate Exchange - soil carbon is traded in renewable four year contracts.


“Drought or changed farming techniques may cause carbon to be released to the atmosphere and this is an important factor to consider while balancing grain production emissions with any carbon sequestration.”


Carbon Farming techniques actually increase the soil’s ability to hold and use available water better than traditional techniques. However severe drought is a reality and carbon trading contracts include insurances and make good provisions, like any other contract.


“Any carbon trading scheme will involve enforceable contracts and auditing of farms. This will increase costs for farmers, possibly outweighing any financial benefits.”


The Chicago Climate Exchange arrangements set aside 30% of the trade value for aggregation of growers into 25,000 acre trading units, auditing, administration, etc. Farmers in the US don’t seem to mind. Total volume traded to date on the CCX is 2.7 million tonnes.


“More accurate measuring of carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions will need to be developed.”


Millions have already been spent developing emissions calculators. The technology exists. It is time to populate the calculators with data. What’s the hold-up?


“Farmers need to be cautious about any attractive sounding claims about the income earning potential from future carbon trading schemes. These will have significant transaction and verification costs, involve long term contracts, be enforceable and auditable, and may not end up paying more than a few dollars per hectare”. Mr Umbers said.


“Farmers need to be cautious about anything they hear about trading carbon, especially from the ill-informed who have studied the market by relying on official research that was never designed to support the claims made by ‘industry researchers’, says Mr Kiely.

“The market for soil carbon is not going to go away because Soil Carbon Denialists say it should.”


Michael Kiely

“Uamby” RMB 384
Uamby Lane
Goolma 2852

02 6374 0329
0417 280 540

Grains Council of Australia Ltd. AB
Carbon Sequestration – Caution Needed - July 10th 2007

The Grains Council of Australia says that Australian grain producers have been making a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the last 15 years, but are unlikely to benefit from a carbon credit or trading scheme, due to the low carbon sequestration potential of most of the soils in grain producing areas.

The Manager of the Grains Council / GRDC ‘Farming Practices for Sustainability’ project, Alan Umbers, said carbon in soils was a complex and easily misunderstood subject.

“Several considerations need to be kept in mind in any debate about the potential for carbon sequestration in grain production.” Mr Umbers said. “They include:

* The limited potential for Australian soils to increase levels of organic carbon, with estimates by many scientists of less than 100kg per hectare per year, even under the most effective non irrigated farming systems,

* Normal farming practices emit greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, with the latter having a global warming potential equal to 310 times that of CO2,

* Any carbon trading scheme will require farmers to show that increased organic carbon will have to remain permanently in the soil for up to 70 or more years.
* Drought or changed farming techniques may cause carbon to be released to the atmosphere and this is an important factor to consider while balancing grain production emissions with any carbon sequestration,

* Any carbon trading scheme will involve enforceable contracts and auditing of farms. This will increase costs for farmers, possibly outweighing any financial benefits

* More accurate measuring of carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions will need to be developed. Grain production is a biological process, subject to seasonal variation, changing farming practices, different crop types and fertiliser use. All of these factors interact with soil microbes.

Mr Umbers said that, while there was potential for increasing organic carbon in soils, the sequestration potential in Australian cropping land was very limited and measuring the whole carbon system and cycle on a farm was an imprecise science.

“A lot of comment is being made about the potential for Australia's 20 million hectares of cropping land to absorb tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 per year. We contend that the potential just doesn't exist.” Mr Umbers said.

“Australian soils are not comparable to Northern Hemisphere soils in their carbon sequestration capacity. Different soils have differing organic carbon storage capacity, in the same way soils vary in their ability to absorb and hold water”, he said.

“Any carbon added to the soil becomes part of the carbon cycle and may not be ‘locked’ there permanently. For example, in a drought, much of the soil biota dies and the decay of these micro organisms releases carbon back to the atmosphere”.

“We also have to consider that any addition of carbon to soil also has to be balanced against emissions that occur from the use of fuel and nitrogenous fertilisers on farms. Realistic estimates of the potential to increase soil carbon are less than 100kg per hectare per year, or about 2 million tonnes a year across the country,” Mr Umbers said.

“However, this ‘additional’ carbon added to soils has to be maintained every year, or the soil carbon levels will slip back to their pre-existing levels, thanks to the natural carbon cycle”, he said.

“Data generated from our Farming Practices for Sustainability project has indicated that the Australian grains industry has reduced its greenhouse emissions significantly over the last 15 years. We are now using about half the diesel used 15 years ago, a current saving of 500 thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions per year”, he said.

“There are potential future emission reductions to be made from better management of nitrogenous fertilisers. We need to do more research in this area, and we’re working on the project with the Australian Greenhouse Office this year”.

“Farmers need to be cautious about any attractive sounding claims about the income earning potential from future carbon trading schemes. These will have significant transaction and verification costs, involve long term contracts, be enforceable and auditable, and may not end up paying more than a few dollars per hectare”. Mr Umbers said.


Monday, July 09, 2007

I am standing for Parliament for soil carbon

In the last week I sent this letter to my friends and associates:


Is it just me or are you also worried that our governments are taking far too long to deal with climate change?
I am standing in the next Federal Election as a Climate Change candidate for the seat of Parkes in NSW. I despair of the current government's commitment or even understanding of the issue. I'm not sure the alternative is full bottle on the subject either. While I don't expect to be elected, I do believe the electorate deserves a chance to send a message to the government, whichever party wins.

I explain our platform down below. but before i do, I will break all the rules of direct mail and tell you up front what I was hoping you could help me with. To register as a political party and have our name on the voting paper, we need 500 signatures and names. We are close, but not there yet. I have asked before and you may have done so already. Our Privacy regime doesn't let me know. The party is called the Climate Change Coalition.

Patrice Newell started the Coalition and is standing for the Senate. Tedd Noffs' son Matt isalso standing, among others.

I am asking you to consider sending in a completed membership form (below). It costs nothing. I commits you to nothing You don't have to vote for us. But it enables us to stand and fight this election.

Our main platform is this: Stop asking the question, "Is CLimate Change Real?" For the sake of our kids and ourselves, let's plan for the worst and hope for the best. Let's assume it's real and prepare for it like taking an insurance policy. AND, if Climate Change is real, then it's not just an issue. It is the issue. We have to look at every aspect of life, every portfolio of government and ask how will Climate Change affect us? How can we cope with it?

BUSINESS - Where will we be able to do business?
HOUSING - Where will we be able to live?
TRANSPORT - How will we travel, how far and how often?
COMMUNICATIONS - How will we get by when freak storms disrupt communications and transport networks.
FOOD SECURITY - Where will we source our food from?
ENERGY SECURITY - Where will we generate our energy?
HEALTH - How we can deliver health services in disrupted situations? How will we serve the rural areas when health resources are diverted to crisis zones in metro areas? What new diseases will emerge?
INDUSTRY POLICY: Where will industries be situated? What new industries will emerge and what will they need?
DEFENCE- How do we deploy our defence forces to manage the climate change refugees coming down from Asia and across the Pacific?
HOMELAND SECURITY - What refugee policy will be best suited for the future? What threat does eco-terrorism hold?
FOREIGN POLICY - What defence alliances and diplomatic arrangements will serve us best?
EDUCATION - What new skills do we need as individuals? What new courses and changes to existing courses will we need?
AGRICULTURE - How do we harness the skills of farmers to build new productive capacity into our farming systems?
MINING - What technologies can we develop to use less water?
FISHERIES - What changes to fish stocks will occur?
TRADE - What partners will we have in a C-challenged world?
ARTS - Howwill the role of the Arts change in a carbon challenged world?

If you've already joined, THANK YOU
If you cant join for any reason, WE UNDERSTAND
If you can help us out the details are at the end of Patrice's email.
If you want to help ,me win the seat of Parkes, please get in touch.

Thank you for your forbearance.


PS.If you can, please pass this along to friends who you know are potential members.

PPS. In case you think we're stealing from the Greens, Bob Brown himself said he understands that not everyone concerned with environment issues can bring themselves to vote Green. So we are an acceptable alternative.

PPPS. I am primarily doing this to push home the soil carbon credits story in the media. Onwards!

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Patrice Newell"
Date: 8 July 2007 7:35:23 PM
To: "Michael Kiely"
Subject: Climate Change Coalition

We have decided to register the name Climate Change Coalition as a political party and if successful, I may stand as a NSW candidate in the Federal election.

The day the Federal election is called, is cut off time for registration. As we don't know when it will be, we've been advised by the electoral commission to register as soon as possible.

Registration involves having 500 legitimate members. The electoral commission will phone approximately 10% of those named to check legitimacy.

So, we are seeking 500 foundation members.

And we'd like those of you who have supported the efforts of CCC to be the foundation members at no cost. We hope you, your family and friends will see value in this development.

Members need to be citizens, registered to vote, and can live anywhere in Australia.

To join Climate Change Coalition please download the membership form attached.*

complete the application and either:

1. Send it by mail to:
Climate Change Coalition
153 Wollombi Road
Cessnock NSW 2325

2. Email completed form back to me

3. Fax completed form to: 02 4998 6168

*CALL 02 6374 0329 AND I'LL FAX IT TO YOU.

The Coalition's bid to win Parkes

This is Steve Truman, the man behind Agmates, one of the cleverest people I have not met (we only email and telephone). He is spearheading the publicity for the farmers fighting for 'land rights' (the right to clear vegetation on their land or be paid compensation). Steve is belting everyone - NFF, NSWFarmers, Canberra, Macquarie Street... He's not making many friends in high places. But that's not his concern. Steve likes ordsinary people, especially farmers.He aims to build a database of 100,000 farmers and build a commercial trading website, driven by news and issues. This native veg campaign is like manna from heaven - a win-win for Steve and thedispossessed farmers. After the letter of support sent to Minister Koperberg, we discussed the possibility that I would be the only candidate in the seat of Parkes fighting for the rights of farmers like these to compensation and carbon credits. Steve replied:

"Mate - Really believe that your political platform is to narrow, just campaigning for Carbon Credits - Now if you where standing on a ticket that committed to win back property rights for Australians - encompassing Land and all that's on it - we could really drum up a storm of support for you - what do you think - I'm serious.


Your Agmate - Steve
Agmates - 100% Pro Australian Farmers

In reply we sent Steve this:

Thanks for the opportunity, Steve.

The injustice done to the dispossessed farmers is the failure to pay compensation. Their right to clear vegetation has been taken by act of government - like catch limits for fishing fleets or bans on fishing certain fisheries. The fishing fleet that fished Sydney Harbour has been scrapped by law - but they were paid market value for their licence.

The climate change issue for mine is bigger than Government attempts to enforce land management practices. Legal rights will come under pressure as society faces the need to change. Power generation companies are already being forced to change the way they manage community resources (the air). They are paying millions for the right to continue to pollute while they develop new technology to solve the problem. The difference between the way the coal miners and big power users are treated and the way farmers have been treated is the crime. It reveals Howard's contempt for the rural sector, thinly disguised in his treatment of the Nationals. He's lumped them with selling the people of the bush on the sale of Telstra.etc.

I am a Candidate for the Climate Change Coalition. We support the right of landholders to the value of their property... to the economic value that property represents... to the carbon they sequester in the soil and in the vegetation. But we can't support the right to continue clearing native vegetation because of the emissions this releases and the need for vegetation to capture and hold CO2.

I hope this doesn't affect our relationship because I admire your spirit. I could bull---- you and pretend to agree (As I am sure a lot of politicians would do) but climate change is going to create more pain for farmers and nonfarmers than anyone has yet admitted. The weather will win the argument in the end. I've got to fight this battle, alone if necessary.




We can't support illegal clearing of vegetation, but we can't support the injustice done to Alastair McRobert from out near Cobar and Peter Spencer from the Cooma district and all the others. They have a right to compensation - the energy and coal industries expect and will get compensation for adjustment to climate change business conditions. We sent this letter to the unfortunate Phil Koperberg who must wonder what he walked into...

The Hon Phillip Koperberg
NSW Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water
Level 25, 59 -61 Goulburn Street, SYDNEY NSW 2000

cc. Prime Minister John Howard, Minister Malcolm Turnbull, NFF President David Crombie, NSW Farmers’ President Jock Laurie

A Solution to the Cobar Standoff

Dear Minister,

I write on behalf of the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming – a farmers’ and citizens’ movement dedicated to the creation of a market for soil carbon credits – to urge you and your Government to enter into serious negotiations with Alastair McRobert and his colleagues in the Commonwealth Property Protection Association.

INDUSTRY INEQUITY: The clearing of native vegetation is a source of greenhouse gas emissions which we should all, as a community, be seeking to avoid. But no industry - other than agriculture - is being asked to face the loss of income as a result of actions to reduce emissions. The polluting coal-fired energy industry is to be given compensation for losses, according to the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Carbon Trading. But there is no mention of compensation for us. No seat at the table, no consideration.

CLIMATE CHANGE COOPERATION: The Police pursuit of farmers seeking to assert their rights to just compensation is an indictment of your Government’s attitude to people who live west of the Divide. The current attempt to enforce poorly drafted legislation is alienating farmers from the responsibility we all have to address global warming. While Agriculture is the nation’s 2nd largest source of greenhouse gases, governments at all level must achieve collaboration. Your actions are not encouraging in this regard.

We are facing the most traumatic time our industry has ever faced: the never-ending drought is the first climate change natural disaster to hit a developed country. The soaring dollar is robbing us of income. The rest of the nation is on a spree while we cope with floods after drought. The adjustments farmers are being expected to make in the near future as part of the Australian Greenhouse Office’s plans - in areas such as water management, tillage, pasture management, methane emissions from animals and changes to fertilizer regimes – will put enormous strain on this industry. Already robbed of their livelihood by weather conditions, they are doubly afflicted by a Government that appears to want to kick us while we’re down.

MECHANISMS FOR JUST COMPENSATION: The State Government must immediately review the Native Vegetation Legislation with a view to introducing compensation for lost productive capacity. The Commonwealth Government must immediately review the Carbon Smart program which pays farmers for retain vegetation, and increase the amounts paid to meet the fair compensation level. Aspects of the program that make it unattractive and ineffectual are the prices paid and the 100 year rule (the trees must stand for 100 years). No farmer wants to tie up his land for 100 years. A 30 year rule would be closer to the mark as trees and soils can start capturing and holding CO2 immediately and can act as the important first aid for the atmosphere before emissions reduction technology comes on stream in 15-20 years. There should also be provision for a stewardship payment scheme to kick in after 30 years. We also see grounds for suspending the “Additionality” Rule which refuses to pay credits for land management changes that are deemed part of ‘business as usual’. This will block many farmers who have already made the move from till to no till cropping.

SOIL CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE: The Commonwealth Government must further encourage farmers to play their part in emissions reduction by making baseline soil carbon testing available free and incentivising farmers to use it. As well, to start the urgent process of capturing and storing CO2 via photosynthesis and rootmass exudation into soil, the Commonwealth Government should immediately sanction the trade in soil carbon credits on the voluntary market as a prelude to trade on the mandatory market with full value transactions based on accurate measurement methods which already exist, contrary to the misinformation in government circles.

Only when farmers are rewarded adequately for their efforts to protect the community from greenhouse gas emissions and regenerate the landscape by “carbon farming” techniques (methods that increase carbon sequestration in vegetation and soils), only then will they believe governments are fair dinkum and only then will they get behind the effort we all must make to tackle climate change.

END THE HARASSMENT: Finally, your Government must put an end to the harassment of farmers by extremist who give the environment a bad name. Relying on the goodwill and good nature of country people, these city people - who are not being asked to sacrifice their income for the greater good, and who have no understanding or compassion for the suffering of their fellow man, (they care more for a wombat than a fellow human being) and who foolishly think the nation would be better off without agriculture – believe they have the right to spy on our activities in a way that must surely contravene the Privacy Act.

Martin Luther King said, as he led his oppressed people to freedom via civil disobedience, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws, but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

Global Warming requires an immediate response from a united people. While your actions and the inequity of the legislation are marginalizing and alienating a large section of the community, you stand against effective action on Climate Change.

Therefore, this, we humbly submit, is the way forward:

1. Immediate cessation of Police and Green Extremist harassment.

2. Immediate negotiations between State and Federal Government on the funding of compensation packages for farmers to forego clearing invasive scrub from productive land.
a. Revamping CarbonSmart program
b. Ending the 100 Year Rule.
c. Dispensing with the Additionality Rule.

3. Immediate sanctioning of sale of farm soil credits on voluntary carbon markets in Australia and the USA.

4. Immediate introduction of free soil carbon baseline testing for all farmers, with financial incentives to measure their soil carbon levels and use them as a means of tracking their performance in capturing and storing greenhouse gases.

5. In future, all government committees and task forces preparing recommendations that will affect farm operations must have at least half the members having lived and worked on a rural enterprise.

Thank you for your attention.

Michael Kiely
Convenor, Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming
Director, Carbon Farmers of Australia
02 6374 0329
0417 280 540

PS. I’ll bet you’d rather be fighting bush fires.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Two important books you should read


I attended The Australian Carbon Trading Summit on 25th-27th June 2007 and saw first hand some of the people known as the "Greenhouse Mafia" in action. The big polluters were there pleading their case for special concessions and compensation. Brad Page from the Energy Supply Association of Australia and Ron Knapp of the Australian Aluminium Council are just two of the gang who have run the Federal Government's greenhouse policy for years. The way they have denied climate change and then delayed the introduction of an meaningful action is clearly outlined in these two books. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, he is implicated as the chief denier and delayer of action. This wouldn't be so bad if it was just some everyday policy. But Climate Change is about the physical safety of citizens and their security. It is about the protection of the infrastructure that makes a consumer society possible.

The Carbon Coalition urges all interested in justice for farmers -and the dangerous way our future is being toyed with - to read these two books. The first book deals with issues that first sufaced on 4Corners. The second is written by as career Liberal Party insider who stumbled across the conspiracy to deny Australia a chance to head off climate disaster in time.

The conspiracy the Carbon Coalition has detected among federal ministers, industry research bodies and association executives is confirmed by these two books.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Environment Writer Wendy Frew: "Clive Hamilton, a long-term critic of the Federal Government, argues that it is partly Howard's heavy reliance on bureaucrats closely aligned to fossil fuel industries and his close personal relationships with coal, oil and aluminium smelting chief executives that has led him to protect them.

That protection, Hamilton says, has come at the expense of renewable industries, the gagging of government scientists, and confusion in the public mind about the seriousness of the threat posed by climate change.

"In the tight little world of greenhouse lobbying, the Prime Minister saw nothing improper in going to the country's biggest greenhouse polluters to ask them what the Government should do about greenhouse policy, without extending the same opportunity to other industries, not to mention environment groups and independent experts," he writes

I have posted a link to an extract of High & Dry. (

As a result of reading these books and 18 months pursuing the soil carbon objective of the Coalition, we have decided that I will stand as a candidate for the Climate Change Coalition in the next federal election (probably November) in the seat of Parkes (the old Gwydir) which stretches from the Queenland border to south of Mudgee.

Our objective will be to fly the flag for soil carbon and use the awareness-raising opportunities to spread the word in the seat. The perfect outcome would be taking the hands of the sceptics of the tiller of the ship of state.

Tilting at windmills? No. Promoting them.

Where the Greens call for the immediate cessation of burning coal (a complete denial of the free market), we have a saner alternative: continue to mine coal in Australia, but instead of selling it to 'dirty coal' burners, we restrict sales to clean coal power plants. IE. we stockpile a valuable resource and sell it only when we can be 100% sure we are not poisoning the atmosphere.

HELP NEEDED: We will need help of all kinds - fundraising, event organising, manning voting stations, etc. If you want to take some positive action about our climate, please call 02 6374 0329 or 0417 280 540.

"Soil is one secret solution to global warming"

Research from the Rodale Institute shows that ‘sustainably-farmed soil absorbs 30% more carbon than conventionally farmed soils. “Switching our farmland to organic would cut greenhouse emissions by 10% in the US (20% in Canada and most of the rest of the world),” says a blurb pointing to a web video at The website carries an online petition calling on world leaders to switch subsidies from conventional to sustainable farming practices. (Thanks to Peter Holter of Holistic Management International for the item.)