Thursday, October 25, 2007

Soil carbon gets a sniff, but only a sniff

“Soil carbon” got a few spots in the latest splash of spending by the Federal Government. The projects include:

• $300,000 to ABARE “to examine the economic opportunities for agriculture and forestry associated with the emerging carbon offsets market in Australia… [including] issues in soil carbon management in forestry and agriculture.”

• $200,000 to the National Farmers’ Federation to “develop background briefing on soil carbon and engage with stakeholders to clearly identify their information issues and opportunities to build understanding of soil carbon sequestration”

• $85,000 to the Bureau of Rural Science to “develop a briefing to inform decision makers on soil carbon, its function and role in carbon cycling and the potential for its inclusion in emissions trading schemes for agriculture and forestry”

Nineteen projects aimed at helping farmers to better manage the effects of climate change will receive $5 million under the Australian Government’s National Agriculture & Climate Change Action Plan.

It is a pittance, given the size of the crisis. The Federal Government's disconnected, piecemeal approach - a series of token efforts - reveals that it is interested in political theatre more than practical outcomes. The Ministers (McGauran and Turnbull) are both clearly hostile to long term solutions such as soil carbon. Despite several approaches, neither have granted us a hearing.

The alternative government will not have the resources to continue this scattergun approach, because the cupboard will be bare after the bribe vs bribe election campaign.

The Carbon Coalition calls upon the new Government - whichever - to rationalise and consolidate scientific research to ensure that the key projects are funded sufficiently well to ensure the findings are sound. (The gaps in the AGO's soil data sets were due to lack of commitment to properly funding the exercise.)

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