Thursday, January 24, 2008

Coalition takes on soil C sceptics

The Coalition’s submission to the Garnaut Climate Change Review demolishes the many “difficulties” that soil carbon sceptics say make soil C a non-starter for trading:

1. Too many small sources and sinks: “The aggregation of growers is an everyday reality in commodity marketing. Marketing Boards, Grain Desks, and Producer Groups are well understood by growers. Woolgrowers are setting up “demand chains” or “supply chain solution for retailers”. EMS systems make aggregation easy.”

2. Difficult to measure: “Poppycock. It’s easy to measure. The problem is ‘flux’ – the amount moves around. Highly respected soil scientists such as John Kimble and Rattan Lal have urged their colleagues to stop being so precious. Flux has statistical properties and can be averaged for accurate real world estimation.”

3. Cost of measurement and monitoring: “Amortise the cost over 130,000 landholders - bulk buy the service - and the price will be realistic. Set it against $25 or $50 or $100 a tonne CO2e and the cost is trivial. Those amounts will be possible when the 3 biggest emitters USA, China and India, enter the market to buy offsets.”

4. 100 Year Rule: “It can’t apply to soil which can do the job for 30 years while all the other solutions grow to critical mass. It’s either soil C or climate chaos. Soil is the only short to medium term solution. Kyoto did not anticipate it and the IPCC has it in its power to change the rules.”

5. Permanence: “You might be 65% water today and 65% water tomorrow, but it is different water. It ‘fluxes’. We don’t care which carbon atom was held. It’s the steady increase in the total amount of soil C that counts.”

6. Initial costs high: “The cost of a soil carbon solution should be seen in context of the billions Australian Governments have spent trying to get Australian landholders to “care” and change their paradigm of relationship with the land. A system that rewards landholders for increasing Soil C will achieve so many Natural Resource Management objectives.”

7. Trade exposed industries: “What appears as a disadvantage can be turned into a competitive advantage by turning a necessity into a virtue: ie., building a brand that exploits the producer’s emissions reduction. The ‘concerned Climate Change consumer’ has already emerged in Europe and British retailers are requesting ‘carbon neutral’ wool from Australian wool buyers.”

“All the things the sceptics call ‘difficulties’ with soil C are simply barriers they put in front of us. They make no attempt to solve these ‘difficulties’; they just parrot them as though saying it will make it real,” says Mr Kiely.

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