Friday, August 26, 2011

Carbon farming legislation passes - first part of carbon price package becomes law

The carbon farming initiative (CFI), which allows farmers and land managers to earn credits by reducing pollution and sequestering carbon in trees and the soil has passed the parliment and is set to become law.

The basic idea here is that carbon credits can be earned for various practices that either reduce emissions from the land sector or sequester carbon dioxide. These credits can then be sold as offsets to polluters both in Australia and overseas. In this way farmers etc can earn money from better land management practices and reforestation etc. Overall carbon farming is only a small part of the carbon price package and will only equate to a small amount of the greenhouse gas reductions between now and 2020. However it does provide an incentive to use the land more sustainably and turn the land into carbon sinks.

One of the questions about carbon farming is its ability to reduce emissions or sequester carbon in the long term. Ie: If you sequester carbon by planting trees and then these trees die in a drought. Clearly verification of actual emission reductions followed by long term monitoring is going to be necessary. Despite these challenges, carbon farming does have potential and seeking to tap this potential is a worthwhile endeavor.

Nb: For those interested in comparing the climate change policies of Labour and the LNP.
While carbon farming is a minor part of the governments carbon reduction plans, the LNP hopes it will provide the majority of greenhouse gas reductions under their proposed policy. However, although the LNP say they support the CFI it in principle, they voted against it. Politics eh?

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