Friday, April 13, 2012

The Race Is On For Big Ideas

You'd better get your skates on to be in the race for grants of $50k-$200k towards the development of CFI methodologies - the Government is in a hurry to fertilise the field of opportunity. They want to start giving the money away on 1st July, 2012. After a public consultancy period until 4 May, 2012, you will have a month to get your submission in. The CFI Methodology Development Program (MDP) has taken a $19.6 million slice from the Carbon Farming Futures package to fund the development of CFI methodologies. Approximately $7.2 million of the MDP fund has been allocated to the preparation of methodologies by government research agencies through collaborative grants projects.
The Department says: "The objective of the MDP is to expand the opportunities for land managers under the CFI through the development of methodologies that meet CFI requirements." It is clear that there were too few 'meths' rolling off the production line. A good number of individuals/organisations can now be funded - between 60 and 240, depending on how much each 'winner' gets. The amount might be limiting in many cases. The following table reveals the size of the opportunity:

Key points of the Departmental press release about the MDP draft guidelines:

Big ideas: "Innovative ideas are encouraged, combined with a sound technical approach to project development."

Big Science: "Where [the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (the Department)] undertakes methodology development, it works in collaboration with the scientific community, practitioners and relevant organisations to ensure methodologies are robust, underpinned by appropriate research, and are supported by industry. Successful applicants under the MDP will also be required to work in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the methodology."

Big partners: "The department is seeking applications from suitable organisations and individuals to prepare CFI methodologies in collaboration with the Department and relevant stakeholders." [It would be useful to know at this stage what makes an organisation or individual 'unsuitable'?]

Big hurdles: "The program will... support... methodology development projects that have the following characteristics.
1. The project involves a methodology that has potential for application across an region or industry because the abatement activity or activities:
* have significant abatement potential
* are cost effective and easily adopted, and/or
* have co-benefits for agricultural productivity, biodiversity or natural resource management.
2. the proposed methodology has the potential to be approved under the CFI
* the abatement activity is covered by the CFI, and on the Positive list or likely to be assessed as beyond common practice
* there is a coherent methodological approach, including an accurate and realistic baseline scenario, a defined abatement activity or change in management practice, a clearly defined project boundary and a rigorous approach to emissions estimation
* the proposed methodological approach is likely to meet the CFI integrity standards and is supported by peer reviewed science. 3. the project team has demonstrated technical capability to carry out the project
* there is a budget for the project that includes cash and/or in-kind contributions by the applicant
* there is a well structured draft work program that covers the development of the methodology through to its final assessment by the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee.

Big race: "Not all projects that meet these program objectives will receive funding."

Big scoreboard: "The following indicators will be used to measure the success of the Methodology Development Program:
* the number of methodologies approved for use under the CFI that have received support through this program
* the number of regions and industries where these methodologies are applicable
* the number of projects implemented using these methodologies and the resulting abatement. [This is the only one that matters. The number of farmers engaged, the degree of behaviour change and the results.]

Big opportunity; 'To be eligible for funding under this program the applicant must be one of the following legal entities based in Australia or, ideally, a consortium of such entities:
* industry representative groups and associations
* individuals supported by technical experts
* companies with an Australian company number
* natural resource management groups at the local, regional and national level
* research organisations
* Australian tertiary institutions.'"

Big process: "Applications for funding will be reviewed by assessors comprised of staff from the Australian Government (which may include staff from Commonwealth agencies other than the department), and non-government technical experts.... The assessment panel will consider:
* value for money, including the value that the applicant provides through in-kind contributions and industry experience and the likelihood that the applicant can successfully execute the work plan
* comparative value; that is, how the application compares to others in meeting the program objectives
* whether the application is comprehensive, logical and clear.
Applicants who demonstrate financial stability and a record of delivering projects of a similar nature will be viewed favourably in the selection process."

"The department will enter into funding agreements with successful applicants and negotiate the final work plan for the project. ... Successful applicants will be required to enter into a legally binding funding agreement with the Commonwealth. The department reserves the right to change these conditions or apply different conditions to a particular project. The department may propose changes to the project proposed during negotiation of the funding agreement, to increase the likelihood that the project will achieve the program objectives.

"The department may request progress meetings and audio conferences with appropriate notice, during the methodology development process.
Some say the Government could have achieved the same result it is seeking with the MDF by using the technique employed by the largest regulator of offsets in the voluntary market - Verified Carbon Standard. VCS channels royalties to methodology developers from other users of the methodology. A simple market-based solution. We say: "Well Done, Minister."

*TWF -Technical Working Group - a group of government and non-government experts with specialised knowledge in the specific field.

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