Sunday, January 26, 2014

Abbott's Mandate: Soil Carbon

The Abbott Government has a mandate to introduce a system of soil carbon credits that will make it financially attractive for landholders to adopt regenerative soil management practices that capture and hold carbon in the landscape. Tony Abbott fought two federal elections with the promise: “Under the Direct Action plan, soil carbons will be the major plank of our strategy.” As long ago as 2008 then Shadow Minister Greg Hunt declared that the Coalition had “a soil carbon vision”. A Coalition Government would commit to a “once in a century” replenishment of our national soils and farmlands. Those of us working for this outcome took Greg Hunt at his word. Now, as Minister, he can deliver on the vision. The Minister has declared 1st July, 2014 the start of the new Carbon Farming Initiative. He will need to deliver on his promise to remove the suffocating green tape that requires each land-based carbon activity to have its own Act of Parliament and its participants to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence. His presentation at the National Carbon Farming Conference in Canberra on 17-20 March, 2014 will be watched closely. Greg Hunt could find himself in the centre of a perfect storm of opportunity: a low cost method of measuring soil carbon has emerged from the CSIRO; Hunt’s own department has a soil carbon ‘methodology’ on the work bench; and a breakthrough in the economics of biochar could make it available at last for broadacre farmers. All three will be subject of presentations at the Conference.

In his Fifth Estate article, Bathurst Burr: Let's March Out of Step, Michael Mobbs speaks the truth: "
The real climate deniers are greenies, “sustainable” designers, companies, engineers, builders and policy-makers. One may speak for something but by actions deny it – and their actions deny climate change. They say they accept the science that shows human cultures have increased the temperature of Earth. In response, they promote “green” buildings, codes, projects, electric cars and bikes, and things that, they say, will cut future pollution. But these same folk say or do nothing to take existing pollution out of Earth’s air. Yet it’s existing pollution that has broken Earth’s climate."

You cannot prevent extreme weather events by avoiding emissions because you can’t prevent your grandfather’s emissions and it is they doing all the damage. They must be extracted from the atmosphere and there is only one way to do that at the scale we need it: photosynthesis, Nature’s carbon vacuum cleaner. Billions of hectares of agricultural soils can be deployed immediately at critical mass and massive capacity. Emissions reduction is the long term solution. But there is no long term without a short term.