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Carbon Farming – Bestprac Group Webinar

Posted by Bestprac on Jan 23 2012

By Wendy Davidson
Leonard Cohen from Canopy addressed the Flinders Merino Bestprac group, in September 2011, to discuss Carbon Farming. Leonard spoke extensively about the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) being administered by the Department of Climate Change, Energy and Efficiency.

Key Learnings (for the Bestprac group who attended this webinar)

The webinar provided useful insight to developments in the carbon farming initiative. Key points of interest and learning for the Flinders Merino Group included:

  • The need for industry representative bodies to be involved in the development of project methodologies
  • The key criteria of “additional to business-as-usual” may restrict the opportunities for creating carbon credits
  • The impact of drought may cause issues with regard to permanence criteria
  • Non-Kyoto Fund provides additional opportunities for projects not recognised in international accounts

The Bill
In August 2011 the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 was passed in Parliament. The legislation fulfils the Australian Government’s commitment to develop legislation to give farmers, forest growers and landholders access to domestic voluntary and international carbon markets. It is designed to unlock the abatement opportunities in the land sector, which currently makes up 23 percent of Australia’s emissions.

The CFI will enable crediting of land sector greenhouse gas abatement, whether or not it is recognised towards Australia’s Kyoto Protocol target. Abatement may be achieved by:

  • Reducing or avoiding emissions, for example, through capture and destruction of methane emissions from landfill or livestock manure; or
  • Removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in soil or trees, for example, by growing a forest, or farming in a way that increases soil carbon.

Carbon Farming Opportunities

There is a range of carbon farming opportunities available to producers including:

Rangeland restoration
Soil carbon
Native forest protection
Fertiliser management
Manure management
Reduced livestock emissions
Landfill gas flaring
Savanna fire management
Feral animal control

These activities will be undertaken as offsets projects which create carbon credits.

Offset Projects

Offset projects, established under the CFI, will need to use methodologies approved by the Government. These contain the detailed rules for implementing and monitoring specific abatement activities and generating carbon credits, under the scheme. Methodologies may be developed by private proponents and industry associations (e.g. MLA & AWI) as well as government agencies.

The Flinders Merino group learnt, during the webinar, that development of methodologies is best tackled by representative bodies, such as MLA and AWI, in consultation with the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. $20m has been allocated for this purpose. The development and approval process (outlined below) is complex, time consuming and considered out-of-reach for individuals and small groups. 

Key Criteria

There were a number of key criteria for offset projects which will impact on producers. These included but are not limited to:

  • Additional to current activities
  • Permanent
  • Measurable and Verifiable

Additional to current activities
Projects must be additional to business-as-usual. Methodology determinations must relate to the kinds of projects that pass the additionality test. The purpose of the additionality test is to ensure that credits are only issued for abatement that would not normally have occurred and, therefore, provides a genuine environmental benefit. The Government’s intention is that this test will enable crediting of activities that improve agricultural productivity or have environmental co-benefits, but which have not been widely adopted.

Permanence obligations may impact on producers whereby they have to re-establish carbon stores if carbon is lost through natural disturbance or deliberate action. For example this may require producers to re-plant vegetation in the event of bushfire. This may create an unforeseen financial burden on producers.

Measurable & Verifiable
To ensure the credibility of abatement estimates, the legislation requires that abatement estimates are measurable and capable of being verified. The requirement that abatement estimates are verifiable means that the estimation methods, reporting and record-keeping requirements, contained in methodology determinations, must be sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to enable an auditor to ascertain how an abatement estimate has been obtained and to assure the credibility of the estimate. This requirement highlighted the need for industry representative body involvement in the development of carbon farming projects.

International Accounts

International accounts comprise of recognised accounts and a voluntary market known as the Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund.

The Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund is a voluntary market not recognised in international accounts. For example this fund may be useful for vegetation which does not meet recognised international accounts. The Government will purchase these non-Kyoto Carbon Farming Initiative credits, which cannot be purchased by companies with responsibilities under the “Carbon Tax”. Funding of $250 million over six years will be available from 2012-13. Further detail about the fund will be available soon.

Useful websites/documents

CFI website

CFI Reforestation Tools

CFI Information brochure

Canopy contact details

Leonard Cohen
Executive Director
T: 08 8374 2369
M: 040 8966 751
F: 08 8372 0122
Skype: leonard8339
5 Fitzgerald Rd
Pasadena SA 5042

Last changed: Jan 23 2012



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