Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soil Carbon spells H-O-P-E

Two conversations yesterday - an officer from a rural municipality who reported that optimism is in short supply in the bush. "We are overstocked with Doom and Gloom." Everything points to Bad. Even Soil Carbon. The Negativists have got to them. Would we come and talk to them. They need some hope. Second conversation was with a most senior soil scientist who is working on a measurement methodology and is including economists and statisticians in his development team. He is a Simplifier, not a Complicator. He gave me hope. We have a lot to be hopeful about. Tony Abbott is announcing his Great Soil Carbon Plan in a few days, after a media build-up akin to the Second Coming. The Government's National Carbon Offset Standard announced itself last December, with several pointed references to soil carbon and farmers' creating offsets. The Standard starts operation in July, which isn't much time. Slowly but surely soil carbon is breaking through to the media and their understanding will grow - and with it the community's understanding. Then we could see a shift in mood. The "stifling fear" of climate change that people carry in their hearts - and which sparks denial and other disorders of the spirit - can terrify them only while they feel that there is no hope. Ironically it is those in denial who rob them of hope by denying the source of the problem, giving humanity no action it can take to counter the threat. Once soil carbon is understood, truly understood in its every dimension, optimism will return. And once there is a price on soil carbon, then the innovators will deliver the solutions that currently remain hidden under a pile of old ideas and ideologies. "Let the dead bury their dead." (Luke 9:59-62) The future speaks a language that the past cannot understand. It is the language of hope.

"Men argue; Nature acts." Voltaire

Imagine what our landscape would be like if we had started carbon farming in earnest a decade ago... Imagine if, 10 years ago, instead of arguing about climate change, we had acted. Imagine if Australia's agricultural lands had been managed to increase carbon in the soil for decade. In 10 years even the driest, hottest landscape could have experienced what ecologists called the 'emergent properties' of a natural system. Would one of these emergent properties be the 'micro-climate' effect, a feedback loop that starts with increased vegetation causing cooler air which attracts more moisture which in turn leads to increased vegetation. It is related to the albedo effect, which occurs when harsh sunlight is reflected from a light-coloured, smooth surface (like bare earth) more effectively that from a darker surface (like vegetation). If cooler air could be released, it may mean more rain. What if the 'microclimate was an entire district? Or a series of districts? Would we see a series of cascading feedback loops, working in our favour this time? I believe we could draw down the Legacy Load and at the same time set the microclimate/albedo dynamic free upon the land. Imagine if we had had even 5 years already of steady carbon farming... What could we have done?

February workshops in NSW



Practical Carbon Farming – 2-Day Workshop
(FarmReady Approved)
Wagga Wagga 3rd-4th February, Riverine Club
Young 8th-9th February, Young Services Club
Tamworth 16th-17th February, TBA
Bungendore 23rd-24th February, Mulloon Creek Farm

No matter what happens to the ETS legislation, the Voluntary Carbon Market will now open in 2010. Minister Penny Wong has released a Standard for Trading in Carbon Offsets – with focus on farmers and soil carbon. The Opposition’s Tony Abbott believes paying farmers for soil carbon is “Direct Action” on Climate Change. So your time is now.



• “How do I start measuring the carbon that we’re growing?”
• “What Soil Carbon Programs are operating?”
• “What do we have to commit to?”
• “How much land should I enroll to start?”
• “What are the risks?”
• “What are the likely returns?”
• “Could we offer soil sampling services in our district?”
• “Should I register as a grower with one of the programs?”
• “Or should we wait and see?”

You can find your own answers to all these questions and more at the Practical Carbon Farming 2-Day Workshop.

Attendees will receive a copy of The Carbon Farming Handbook, the only book of its kind in the world. The A-to-Z of Soil Carbon Sequestration. RRP $55.00. YOURS FREE.

This course is taught By Carbon Farmers of Australia: The Soil Carbon Specialists: Carbon Farmers is a not-for-profit company.

The Principals of Carbon Farmers of Australia are Pioneers of Soil Carbon Education. They have been practicing “Carbon Farming” for 10 years on their 1780 acre wool-growing property in the Central West of NSW

• Campaigned since 2005 to establish the market
• Conducted the first study tour of the USA soil carbon industry in 2006
• Secured the first order for Australian agricultural soil from the Chicago Climate Exchange 2006.
• Made sales of Australian soil carbon credits in March 2007
• Organised the first “Soil Science Summits” between scientists and farmers 2007.
• Staged the world’s first Carbon Farming Conference, Mudgee 2007.
• Launched the first formal training program on soil carbon 2008.
• Wrote and published the first Carbon Farming Handbook 2009
• Helped secure $26 million in funds for research to make it easier to measure soil carbon for trade 2009.
• Appointed to FAO-organised rangelands and conservation farming advocacy groups (In USA) 2008/9
• Consulted by Ministers of both sides of Parliament in Canberra.

The income from these activities is essential to enable the work of the Coalition to continue.

*"The National Carbon Offset Standard provides Australian businesses, particularly farmers, with the opportunity to develop offset credits for voluntary carbon markets. These opportunities include offsets from increased soil carbon and from other land-based emissions sources.” (

TO REGISTER CALL 02 674 0329
P: (02) 6374 0329 M: 0417 280 540


GUY WEBB, GAIA CONSULTING, FORBES: “Michael and Louisa Kiely of the Carbon Coalition have gathered all the fragmented pieces of the soil carbon puzzle together into a cohesive 2 day course that allows growers to get a very firm grip on how soil carbon can built and traded. The Kiely’s are a relentless force of nature that will not stop until farmers are being paid fairly to store carbon in soil”

ANGUS MAURICE, INNOVATIVE FARMER, SPICERS CREEK: Fantastic insight into the most recent developments in the politics, policy and possibilities of all things carbon. This is combined with some terrific information on many farming techniques which could achieve multiple goals such as primary production, ecological service and carbon sequestration. I like the concept of these WIN WIN systems for the farmer and the environment. Thoroughly enjoyed the 2 days.

FRAN & PETER PROWSE, PROWSE AGRICULTURE, KEMPSEY: “We were glad we attended the Practical Carbon Farming - Soil Carbon Workshop. Being parents of young children and also working in the Agricultural Supply Industry the course was informative and very encouraging in our path towards healthy and productive crops and a sound and viable future for Australian Farming. We are now better equipped with practical ways we can help our clients with carbon retention and Carbon Farming.”

WE CAN COME TO YOUR DISTRICT. Call us to discuss how to arrange it. CALL 02 674 0329

Practical Soil Carbon Farming

Introduction to Soil Carbon
The Carbon Cycle and Climate Change
What is Carbon?
Why it is called a “Greenhouse Gas”
The Science of Climate Change
Methane, nitrous oxide, and CO2-e
Implications for Agriculture
Kyoto Protocols and Agriculture
Origin of the ETS/CPRS
Kyoto Protocols
Global Sequestration Potential (USA/FAO estimations)
Food Security

Soil Carbon Dynamics
How soil carbon is made
Photosynthesis – plants, trees, algae, cyanobacteria
Fractions – Soil Organic Carbon vs Soil Organic Matter
Soil Biology – Microbial Community

Co-Benefits of Soil Carbon
Economic: Stop topsoil losses, reduce inputs, better usage water, potential trade etc.
Environmental: Increased biodiversity, reduced silting of waterways, reduced usage biocides, reduced salinity, etc.
Social: Rural sector seen to be playing crucial role in mitigating effects of climate change; Food Security from higher production reduce refugee numbers anticipated; Trading in soil carbon boosts economy of rural communities; etc.
Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change – “Secure Bridge To The Future” – Soil Carbon’s unique role

Land Management
Growing Soil Carbon
The 3 Elements (Climate, Soil Type, Land Management)
Carbon Farming – Land Management for Soil Sequestration of Carbon
Guiding Principles: Ground Cover, Perenniality, Nutrient Management, etc.
Getting Started: Soil Mapping, Soil Tests
“Potential” of Australian Soils
The Bucket Theory
High Cost of Humus
Holding Bay vs Vault Theory

Carbon Farming Planning
AdHoc vs Planned strategy
Soil Carbon Optimising Tool (SCOT)
The 5 Levels: Water, Vegetation, Land, Soil, Biology
How they contribute to sequestration
How they relate to each other
The Options Available At Each Level (From Leaky Weirs to Probiotic Inoculants)

Water Management -– Hydrology Planning & Engineering - Landscape Rehydration (Natural Sequence Farming, Keyline, Newell System, etc.)

Vegetation Planning - Agroforestry, (forests, shelter belts, wildlife corridors, saline plantings), Grassy Woodlands, Edible Shrubs, Mid-storey plantings, etc.

Land – Conservation Farming, Minimum-Till, No-Till, No-Till/No-Kill,, Controlled Traffic, Permaculture, etc.

Soil Management – Mulching, Pasture Cropping, Perennial Cover Cropping, Grazing Management, Shellacking, Green Mulching, etc.

Biology Husbandry – Biofertilisers, Compost, Compost Teas, Bio-dynamics, Biochar, Probiotics, Dung Beetles, Earthworms, etc.

Soil Carbon & Soil Biology
Microbes Manufacture Carbon
All soil carbon sequestration methods support Microbes
Decomposition & Photosynthesis
The Cycle of Life
The Microbial Community
Detritifers & Decomposers
Ants, Springtails, Termites
Role of Biological Community

Trading Soil Carbon
Origins of Carbon Trading
How Cap & Trade Works
Offsets, Permits & Carbon Credits
Kyoto Protocols
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
Two Markets
Mandatory Market
Voluntary Market: North America
Price Histories
Opportunity for Agriculture in Australia National Carbon Offset Standard

Trading Issues for Australian Farmers
MMV – measurement, monitoring and verification - costs
Additionality: Will Early Movers Be Disadvantaged?
Permanence Issues and solutions.
Carbon pools.

Post-Copenhagen Opportunity
The Global Alliance Seeking A Fair Deal For Agriculture
Redefining Additionality, Permanence
Decoupling Emissions and Sequestration
Removing Liability for Methane, N20 Emissions
Food Crisis & Food Security
Secure Bridge To The Future

The Prime Carbon Trading System
Voluntary Market Operation
Responsibilities of the Land Holder
Responsibilities of the Program Manager
Risk Management System
Redefining Additionality, Permanence

Carbon Farmers of Australia “Adopta Farmer Fighting Greenhouse”
Farm Gate Market
CCX model
Fixed Price
“Provisional” Offsets

Participants’ Consultation
Feedback on Trading Issues
Carbon Coalition strategies and activities
Other Issues

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hocus Pocus - Decoding Scientific Reports

Scientists – when writing reports for non-scientists – are allowed to use some big words to sparkle-arkle the presentation. But some go further in their desire to convince the world that trading soil C is the AntiChrist. Was there ever a day when ‘scientist’ meant ‘truth’ and ‘objective’? Sadly the following – taken from a paper on grasslands management in Australia, submitted to an international workshop – proves that science has come a long way from that hazy ideal.

“While there is doubtless substantial technical potential to increase C-storage in grazed Australian ecosystems above- and below-ground, (WHILE WE CAN DRAW DOWN MILLIONS OF TONNES OF CO2 BY MANAGING GRASSLANDS, WE CAN’T DO IT FOR ALL THESE IMPORTANT-SOUNDING REASONS – PRODUCE DOVE OUT OF HANDKERCHIEF) an adequate information base for accurately quantifying that expected potential for any specific changed management regime does not exist.” (SLEIGHT OF HAND: ASSUME MODELS ARE THE ONLY SOLUTION) It is not yet clear that reduced animal production is always necessarily a concomitant to achieving increased soil C stocks, although that seems logical for most situations. (THREE CARD TRICK: LOGICAL ONLY TO A NON-FARMER – DOES ‘SEEMS LOGICAL’ QUALIFY AS A SCIENTIFIC OBSERVATION?) This poor state of the information-base will be inhibitory to the uptake of any market-based C-trading or GHG-trading system for grazing land based approaches. (SMOKE & MIRRORS: A SCIENTIST IS AN EXPERT ON EVERYTHING, INCLUDING MARKET ECONOMICS) There are numerous complicating factors that will need to be addressed and dealt with explicitly in any market-based GHG trading scheme that involves C-sequestration into grazed ecosystems. (THESE COMPLICATING FACTORS ARE ALL MAGICIANS’ TRICKS) These include, linked emission and/or uptake of methane and nitrous oxide associated with management changes for achieving changed C-sequestration, (OBVIOUSLY NOT) the impact on C-stocks of wildfire frequency and intensity, (ILLOGICAL KYOTO NONSENSE) compensatory non-domesticated animal grazing, (WE’LL HAVE TO SHOOT THE KANGAROOS) and large scale movement of high-C surface topsoil by flood and wind, (NO MENTION OF INCREASED GROUND COVER?) difficulties of defining baseline C-stocks and baseline GHG fluxes from each patch of land under consideration especially when the requisite baseline is in the past, (GIBBERISH) long time-frames (several decades) required and high expense for measuring change in C-stocks in each patch of land under a scheme, (THE OLD COST OF HUMUS TRICK) the high actual input-value or opportunity-value of the mineral elements associated with increased organic C stocks (ARE THERE NO FREE LIVING N –FIXING BACTERIA), the special status of any lands that have already been defined as “Kyoto Lands” by coming under Kyoto Protocol arrangements (SAW THE GIRL IN HALF), and the interaction of C-sequestration with other environmental externalities that are coming under different management policy arrangements such as interactions with hydrological and biodiversity policies (FALSE ASSUMPTION – ESCAPE HATCH) The existence of the above and other real-life complexities will render market-based C-trading schemes involving pastures, exposed to the risks of complicated, ill-conceived, ill-understood, poorly regulated financial instruments and arrangements that are replete with opportunity for fraudulent scams and inappropriate diversion of community wealth to the personal fortunes of scheme managers and traders, while not delivering the scheme objectives, reminiscent of those involved in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009. (DISAPPEAR IN PUFF OF SMOKE).

Science or Politics: CSIRO compromised

There are two types of soil scientist: those who can grasp the urgent necessity of deploying soil carbon-increasing strategies and those who do not. Among the latter, I an told, there are climate change denialists and haters of market mechanisms.
It is easy to spot an anti-soil C trading scientist. They harp on about complexity, find lots of it, and make no attempt to simplify. They are so transparently fixed. Even their language in scientific papers is political. Here is an extreme example from a 2009 CSIRO paper:

“The existence of the above and other real-life complexities will render market-based C-trading schemes involving pastures, exposed to the risks of complicated, ill-conceived, ill-understood, poorly regulated financial instruments and arrangements that are replete with opportunity for fraudulent scams and inappropriate diversion of community wealth to the personal fortunes of scheme managers and traders, while not delivering the scheme objectives, reminiscent of those involved in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009.”

As someone dedicated to seeing the market open as soon as possible, I find this language objectionable and wholly inappropriate coming from an institution that parades its “brand” as being based on the highest standards of science. Individually, its scientists might be denialists or paranoid about trade or afraid of losing control of farmers. But science is science, or it used to be. Has the scientific community got an opinion on this type of derogatory, defamatory language in scientific reports?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why are the Climate Rednecks Revolting (and What Can Be Done)?

The Rebellion against Action on Climate Change is in full swing. The extreme right of politics is providing the firepower and media management skills in an attempt to rewind the plan shared by member countries of the United Nations to reduce emissions of Greenhouse Gases and shift to non-polluting energy platforms.
The Rebellion exploits the major weakness in its UN’s defences: Climate Change is a complex issue that few people understand. Inside this void a potent mixture of junk science, sloganeering and smear have been woven into conspiracy theories that play to the fears of the unsophisticated voter.
So far the Rebels have used politicised ‘scientists’ as an alternative authority to gain traction in the debate. Official science failed to respond to the challenge, simply dismissing the Denialists’ scientists’ output as “rubbish” which can’t be found in peer-reviewed journals. Common-sense folk have no idea what this means. The arrogance of the dismissal made common folk less-than-eager to find out.

The mindset of the Rebels is a potent mix of the political, economic, religious and psychological.

From the longest view, The Rebellion is the next chapter in the battle for control of environmental policy. Rebels see Climate Change as a giant hoax – a Trojan Horse to give the Environmentalists control of public policy and put an end to the fossil fuel industry. The world’s largest fossil fuel company – Exxon Mobil – has bankrolled the Rebellion, and admits it. Some rebels see an even more sinister plot aimed at de-industrialising the West, sending mankind back to the Middle Ages.
The cause of this calamity will be the destruction of the economy when the cost of environmental damage is factored in to the price of goods and services. The economic irrationalists who believe this make no allowance for new technologies and new economic models which will emerge when the price on carbon unlocks the entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation. They entertain no optimism, see only downside.

Economic Man’s motivation for joining the Rebellion can be explained by a theory called “The Circulation of Elites”. Described by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in the 19th century, the theory holds that the emergence of new industries and new economic models cause old money to lose top position to new money. Climate Change threatens the privileged existence of old technology leaders like Exxon-Mobil executives. Scratch any Rebel leader and you'll find a link to mining and fossil fuels.
Elites, however, can decide how they react to new economic structures. For example, BP (formerly British Petroleum) became Beyond Petroleum when the company took the new model head on to become a major manufacturer of solar panels. Peak oil put a cap on BP’s future anyway, while the coalminers report that they have 250 years of supply left to mine. “The cheapest form of energy”, coal will remain so unless a price is put on Carbon. Such a price is necessary to cover the cost of the damage* done by the pollutant*. Here, then, is the raw economic threat: the price of coal will rise dramatically should a new economic order based on the words asterixed above comes into existence. The fossil fuel industry has been free-riding on the taxpayer for the real cost of their operations, and they don't want to lose their unofficial subsidy, say environmentalists..

The Third Element in the mix of forces driving the Rebellion is religion. Many extreme-right ideologues are fundamentalist in religion as well as politics. Many fundamentalists believe that God has sent Global Warming as part of the “End Times” spoken of in the Book of the Apocalypse. To resist it by taking action against Climate Change is to resist the will of God. A major influence in the USA, Australia also has many fundamentalists in politics.

There is also a deep psychological foundation for the Rebellion. The language of the footsoldiers and commanders of the Rebellion is aggressive, dismissive and lampooning. Such behaviour indicates fear and anxiety and this can explain the Rebellion’s psychological dynamic. Despair is very common among country people, and denial is just that – denial, a standard means of coping with the overwhelming sense of powerlessness that Climate Change can induce. Farmers live everyday with the evidence of deteriorating climate conditions, yet they are the most likely to agree with Denialists. In Australia the Government and Opposition agreed on a package of Climate Change arrangements that is the most generous of any nation in the world. Yet the farm lobby says it is not enough. There are many who have not heard of the package. Denial means shutting information out and admitting only information that bolsters the Denial.
The Denialists live in hope that Climate Change is a hoax. It is their only chance. More than 2000 conventional scientists have had their integrity questioned and are accused of conspiring with the diplomates of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change to ‘cook the books’. Their alleged motivation: jobs (for the scientists) and trips abroad and cocktail parties (for the diplomats). Those who oppose Denialism dismiss such charges as ‘rubbish’. But – as an ‘end of the world’ scenario hangs heavy in the air whenever Climate Change is mentioned – people who are prone to distrust institutions are also prone to find a cushion for their pain in the simplistic solutions of populist leaders.

This confluence of political, economic, religious and psychological forces makes the task of winning the war for ‘the truth’ so much harder. The Rebellion has a unity about it. It is so much easier to be unified against something than for something which you must define. But this negative unity can be at once a strength and a weakness. It is a monoculture. A single contagious idea could wreck its unity and deflect its impulsion. The idea must be potent enough to break through the ideological screen and cause the Rebel footsoldiers to doubt.
The response to date to predictions of doom from establishment scientists proves that this appoach makes no impression. Images of IPCC scientists wringing their hands in the media contribute to the ‘alarmist’ tag the Rebels have so easily attached to them. The strategy for creating doubt in the minds of the Rebellion Footsoldiers must not enable their leadership to rebadge it as ‘alarmist’ propaganda. What makes a contention ‘alarmist’? When he hearer believes that here is nothing to be alarmed about.

The concept of “Food Security” has most potential to wedge the Denialists and their followers. In recent years the world’s security forces have been preparing plans for the outbreak of conflicts and wars as “Climate Refugees” in prodigious numbers invade other countries in search of food and water. Several ‘hot spots’ have been identified and one of them is Australia. The Australian Defence Forces, the Australian Federal Police and several strategic military panels in the USA have pointed to the likelihood of flooding and crop failures causing famine and civil unrest in Indonesia and Southern China. A report to the Pentagon in 2003 predicted 40 million climate refugees could be on the move in our neighbourhood within 40 years if Climate Change is allowed to proceed unchecked. Australians are spooked by 78 Sri Lankans in a leaky boat arriving off the northern coastline. How would they react to credible reports that, if Climate Change is not tamed, Townsville will in all likelihood be an Asian city of 5 million by the time their grandchildren are their age.
To dissociate the message from the Climate Change establishment – which has no credibility with the Rebels - the message could be delivered by the Chief of the Defence Force, the Chief Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police could be asked to present their reports at a joint press conference, for maximum impact. At the same conference, the report by the US Armed Forces Panels could be referenced.
The wave of anxiety among those groups traditionally sensitive to these threats could cause them to question the Abbot/Joyce doctrine. They should be forced to ask themselves “What if Tony/Barnaby is wrong?"


The father of the American conservation movement, Aldo Leopold, observed that the abolition of slavery was the “First Great Moral Advance for Humanity.” This advance took place when Western Society recognised that one human being cannot own another human being. They are members of the same community – the family of man –with rights and obligations.
The next great leap forward rests on the belief that man is not only a member of the human community, he is also a member of the broader community of living creatures – the Ecological Community. Each animal, plant, and microbe has a role to play in maintaining a liveable biosphere and each deserves protection and respect.
Aldo Leopold called it the “Land Ethic”. He wrote: “All ethics so far evolved rest on a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics also prompt him to co-operate… The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals or collectively, the land.”
This is the ultimate challenge for Humanity. Do we have the courage and confidence to accept a new discipline, the loss of a freedom enjoyed since the human race emerged a the top of the food chain and set out to ‘subdue the earth’ and lay waste to it with no thought for the future. God’s instructions were, according to King James version of the Bible, “replenish the Earth and subdue it”.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carbon Farming "All Hype and Humbug," says Nuffield scholar.

"PUSHBACK" on Nuffield Scholarship?

"IT'S all hype and humbug" is David Drage's thoughts on carbon trading's potential for agriculture, after his three-month world study tour on the subject.' The Weekly Times reported. The Victorian mixed farmer visited the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the US last year on a Nuffield scholarship and brought home the following conclusions
• The capacity of Australian agriculture to help cut global emissions was insignificant. (This statement ignores the Federal Opposition’s claim that soil and vegetation can remove 150million tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere every year by 2020. Some scientists have put it as high as 1000 million tonnes, with the Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales Governments putting out similar reports. While our emissions may be negligible on a global scale, the landmass we have devoted to agriculture – hundreds of millions of hectares - makes us a major player in the global effort to ‘draw down’ CO2 via photosynthesis.)
• David warned farmers who locked themselves into carbon contracts could find themselves forced to repay their contracts. (If carbon markets worked that way, no farmer would get involved. The individual farmer is protected by the “Buffer Pool” or self-insurance system that operates. No farmer is left alone to sell direct. They can’t supply the 25,000 tonnes minimum trading unit. So they combine in pools of millions of units. Most systems put aside some tonnes for protection. The Chicago Climate Exchange requires that each farmer put aside 20% of what they deliver as a hedge. The Carbon Farmers of Australia system requires that for every 1 tonne traded that the grower put aside an additional tonne to cover the potential loss. These tonnes are spread across millions of units in the full range of climate zones and geographic regions. They are there to replace units lost for any reason. The President of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (6 million members world wide) says buyers can rely upon the “Collective Persistence” of the pool that gives protection to the buyer and the grower.)
•"Many international investors I spoke to had no faith in the permanence of agricultural carbon sequestration," he said. (The issue of permanence is also resolved by this pool concept. It's not hard to find people who will bad mouth soil carbon anywhere in the world.)
• "And the science of measuring products like soil carbon is not sufficiently advanced to give them the confidence to invest." (Scientists have been measuring soil carbon for the purposes of scientific study for decades. Who is suggesting that the measurement of soil carbon for trade needs to be more accurate than measurement for science? Only someone with a vested interest in keeping soil carbon off the market or in being paid to chase the min-min light of accuracy beyond the needs of science. There are many such people. "Confidence to invest" is the right issue. Markets have a method of handling uncertainties in quantity or quality. It’s called “The Price Mechanism”. We have seen it working at the Chicago Climate Exchange where the low levels of measurement rigor has kept the price very low. This in turn encouraged the CCX to lift the bar in order to attract more farmers because the price was discouraging them.)
• "Australian agriculture can't offer much to the international efforts to reduce emissions, because we are already a highly efficient industry. (We may be an efficient industry from a cost management viewpoint, but we are not efficient when it comes to Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Opportunities to reduce emissions are everywhere: manure management and methane flaring, precision application of fertilizer, no-till cultivation, covering bare earth, feed supplements for cattle and sheep, biological soil treatments, grazing management, pasture cropping, cover cropping, and many more. Australian farmers have been offered the best emissions deal available to farmers anywhere in the world: Not taxes to cover methane and nitrogen emissions, but incentives to change the way we manage these gases. And we are free to trade our soil carbon.
If you believe that “it’s all hype” there is one fact that you should bear in mind: No one is forcing you to be involved. No farmer will be forced to trade their soil carbon. Or reduce their methane and nitrogen gas emissions.)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Why we support Prime Carbon

Sir Nicholas Stern estimated the cost of putting off effective action against Climate Change in the hundred of billions of dollars per year. The cost of the ACCC action against Prime Carbon is very high. While there are several excellent systems in development,the Prime Carbon operation is closest to launch. It's commencement was expected to be followed quickly by several others. The legal action could be seen as a major blow against the SOIL CARBON MOVEMENT - the only effective short term solution to Climate Change. We see it as part of the "PUSHBACK" campaign by anti-soil carbon elements that have conducted an ongoing campaign against us for the four years we have been campaigning. The ACCC claims that they have a complaint but won't tell us who it is. The language complained about was in a very early version of the literature. The whole scenario seems contrived. And the timing - with the program so close to launch - is very coincidental.

We stand by Ken Bellamy and his integrity is not diminished in any way by this action. Rather it is the ACCC's judgement which has been questioned of late.

Just as Peter Spencer is seeking by his hunger strike to draw attention to the robbing of rights under English Common Law, the ACCC's presumption of guilt and name/shame method of operating effectively robs us of the right called the presumption of innocence.

The Carbon Coalition stands by Prime Carbon and Ken Bellamy because of the importance of his work for the protection of the planet's inhabitants from deep, destructive Climate Change. Australia leads the world in "Carbon farming". The eyes of the world are on us at this moment. Which does the consumer need protection from most: marketing claims or cataclysmic climate disruption?

MEDIA RELEASE: ACCC action threatens urgent Climate Change solution

The ACCC is damaging Australia’s Climate Change response, according to the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming – the soil carbon advocacy group.

The ACCC is putting at risk the launch of a system that could protect the world from the worst effects of Climate Change. The regulator is taking court action against an Australian soil carbon pioneer whose system could buy the time we need to make the change to renewable energy sources.

Prime Carbon’s Ken Bellamy is within 3 months of launching a trading system which – worldwide – has the potential to neutralize emissions by 50ppm by turning the vast stretches of farmland and other lands (such as schools and parks) into a carbon sink. Leading Australian scientists recently declared that we have left it too late to avoid a 2°C increase in average temperature, and that only by a system like Mr Bellamy’s will we gain the time we need to bring renewable energy to baseload capacity.* The world’s most respected soil carbon expert Professor Rattan Lal believes the world’s farmers can ‘draw down’ the equivalent of 50ppm (parts per million) CO2.** Prime Carbon’s system uses photosynthesis as the way to absorb CO2 and store it in soil.

The Government needs innovators like Ken Bellamy to develop trading systems that accord with the National Carbon Offset Standard, recently released by the Department of Climate Change & Water and give us Australian options for reliable offsets.

“Ken Bellamy has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on technical development and due diligence on his system. He has also spent a small fortune on research for soil improvement which recently attracted a scientific peer review of his breakthrough paper on in-soil photosynthesis. Mr Bellamy also had a private meeting with the Prime Minister on the subject last month. These are not the actions of a fly-by-night operator,” says Mr Kiely. “He has engaged the local community in his system, building ‘business clusters’ to use local municipal wastes to make composts for enriching soils on local farms and from that to generate carbon credits to be shared between the farmers and urban communities.”

Prime Carbon is charged with making inappropriate references to other emerging industry organizations in its early marketing materials. Significantly, the charges do not refer to any of the core processes or to any current actions of Prime Carbon.

“Ken Bellamy has been completely transparent in this process, taking his solutions to the community, the ACCC and the Department of Climate Change for consultation and guidance,” says Michael Kiely. “The Carbon Coalition stands by Prime Carbon because it has taken the industry further and faster than anything else and we need the systems urgently.”

“The ACCC could do something truly heroic and invest some time studying soil carbon solution and the extraordinary opportunity it offers and balance that against the relative seriousness of the allegations and the damage already done to Prime Carbon by this unfortunate legal action.”

*“The science now tells us that it will be next to impossible for nations to achieve the scale of reductions required in sufficient time to avoid dangerous climate change unless we also remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in vegetation and soils…The power of terrestrial carbon to contribute to the climate change solution is profound.”

- “Optimising Carbon in the Australian Landscape” - Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, October 2009

**‘The technical potential of carbon sequestration in world soils may be 2 billion to 3 billion mt per year for the next 50 years. Thus, the potential of carbon sequestration in soils and vegetation together is equivalent to a draw-down of about 50 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 by 2100.’

- Rattan Lal ( is Director of the Ohio State University’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center and Professor of Soil Science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

ACCC institutes proceedings against Prime Carbon Pty Ltd

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against Prime Carbon Pty Ltd.
Prime Carbon sells a 'soil carbon and sequestration program' to farmers which aims to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and store it in agricultural land. In signing farmers up to this program, Prime Carbon provides the following services:
1. design and facilitate carbon sequestration and other greenhouse gas abatement and offsetting projects for customers,
2. assist in the creation and management of specific amounts of carbon dioxide sequestered or abated from the environment (carbon credits), and
3. assist in the registration and marketing of those carbon credits.
The ACCC is alleging that Prime Carbon made false or misleading representations about the National Environment Registry (NER) and the National Stock Exchange of Australia Limited (NSX). Specifically, the ACCC alleges that Prime Carbon made representations to the effect that:
• the NER registry is the sole registry that meets the standards required of carbon credit registries by the Australian Government and the carbon credits listed on the registry, were specifically supervised or regulated by the Australian Government,
• the NER registry was the place where domestic and international buyers go to source carbon credits,
• the NER had a relationship with the Chicago Environment Registry which would assist NER-listed Australian carbon credits being traded on the international market,
• it was a broker and aggregator with the NSX, and
• enquiries about the purchase of carbon credits aggregated by Prime Carbon have been or are likely to be generated by or through the NSX,
when this was not the case.
The ACCC also alleges that Prime Carbon's sole director, Mr Ken Bellamy, was knowingly concerned in or a party to, some of Prime Carbon's contravening conduct.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, corrective orders, trade practices compliance orders, findings of fact and costs.
A directions hearing has been set down for 23 February 2010 in the Federal Court, Brisbane, before Justice Spender.
Release # NR 001/10
Issued: 5th January 2010

Friday, January 01, 2010

Kyoto has failed - Meet "Pledge & Review"

By the ruthless demonstration of its ability to disrupt the Copenhagen Conference and its refusal to be part of an international system of audited emissions reductions to any time, China may have put the stake into Kyoto. This is how the Sierra Club reported it:
"Pledge and review... repeals any notion of a legally binding deal, allowing countries to instead pledge the level of ambition they deem fit – rather than that determined by climate science... It also breaches the Bali "firewall" – the differentiation between industrialized and developing countries that exempts the developing world from binding emissions reductions targets. Differentiation was agreed to... under the tenet of common but differentiated responsibility... The U.S. and Australia are pushing this system to address the problem of differentiation of advanced developing countries like China and India to ensure an international agreement that can be ratified by the Senate."

Weaknesses of the Kyoto Protocol

"The Kyoto Protocol embodies several concepts of distributional equity, but it boils down to this: the rich and responsible are expected to lead. In other words, it calls for action by those with higher per capita emissions and higher per capita contributions to the build up of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and it also targets those with a much greater ability to pay for emissions mitigation," said Joseph E. Aldy and Robert N. Stavins in their paper Climate Policy Architectures for the Post-Kyoto World. 'The downfall of this approach is that it has contributed to the Kyoto Protocol’s primary weakness: the agreement has failed to promote more substantial participation among the world’s largest emitters. Three of the five largest do not face binding emissions constraints, despite the fact that they have ratified the Kyoto Protocol: China and India do not have quantitative emissions targets, and Russia’s Kyoto commitment is so lax that it likely will not necessitate any abatement for Russian compliance. In addition, the largest greenhouse gas contributor, the United States, has not ratified the agreement. These four countries represented half of global CO2 emissions in 2004, and their share is expected to grow without efforts to limit their emissions."

Why Threats to the Kyoto Protocol Endangers Copenhagen & Our Climate
Posted by: Guay on November 4, 2009 at 11:59AM PST
By Justin Guay, apprentice for the Sierra Club Global Warming and Energy Team