Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Carbon Coalition, Carbon Farmers of Australia and the Carbon Farming & Trading Association

Since 2006, the Carbon Coalition and Carbon Farmers of Australia, have been a de facto industry body for those interested in the multiple benefits of soil carbon. We have staged the National Annual Carbon Farming Conference and Expo and the Carbon Cocky Awards 7 times, and pioneered education in the field, with countless seminars and workshops (Carbon Farming 101 and Advanced Carbon Farming & Trading). Several editions of the Carbon Farming Handbook have been published. CSIRO’s Dr Jeff Baldock said we were instrumental in the $24m Soil Carbon Research Program funding: “You deserve a pat on the back.” Minister Greg Hunt said, “There would be no Carbon Farming Initiative were it not for the efforts of Carbon Farmers of Australia.”
   The Association has been very active in the Carbon Farming Initiative since its inception. It has been a strong voice for farmers in the consultation process associated with the passing into law of the Carbon Farming Initiative (Carbon Credits) Act 2011 and has since been involved in commenting on regulations. Since the Act was passed, the Association has provided a focus for the emerging industry and built bridges between stakeholder groups, including farmers, scientists, brokers, advisers, and policy makers.
   We have engaged with the CFI at every level so we can give first hand advice to members:
• Developing a CFI methodology for sequestering carbon in soil
• Awarded an Australian Financial Services Licence (to be able to give advice about Australian Carbon Credit Units)
• Achieved Recognised Offsets Entity (ROE) status (qualified to manage a CFI project)
• Awarded an ANREU account – Australian National Register of Emissions Units – a facility for receiving CFI credits
• Applied for Eligible Offsets Project with a small native species planting (to learn the process of executing a CFI Methodology.)
• Assisted a business to achieve carbon neutral status, to help create a market for soil carbon offsets.
• Assisting a farmer investigate a Methodology to enable users of a ‘4th Generation” biochar-based natural fertiliser to earn offset credits for soil carbon sequestration and reduced nitrous oxide.
   We have been getting to know marketplace operators we can trust to provide trading and related services to members, including lawyers, brokers, project originators, advisors and accountants. We are members of the Carbon Market Institute and it’s Methodology Project Developers Group.
   We are termed ‘key stakeholders’ by the then Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the now Department of the Environment, and submit contributions to relevant consultation papers. (We meet with officials of the Department at least 4 times a year.)
   We respond to a constant stream of requests for information, by email and telephone.
   We have a schedule of improve-ments to the CFI that we are addressing. In the first instance, we are lobbying the relevant federal politicians for a flexible approach to the 100 Years Rule. We see this as the make or break issue.
   We are aware that the ‘official’ version of the ‘potential’ of soil carbon sequestration (always much smaller than the farmer reality) has gained prominence in the debate, due to a continual stream of mistaken reports in the press.
   We have identified a list of “high performance” soil carbon managers who have demonstrated a potential well beyond the mean identified by CSIRO, by an order of 10. These ‘outliers’ – routinely discarded and rightly so in most studies, but not in this case -  present a challenge for the scientists and policy makers. If these outliers can do it, it can be done.

   Meanwhile we are engaged as members of the Soil Carbon Reference Group, giving advice to the Department as it completes the Soil Carbon Methodology. We also serve on the Biochar Reference Group.
   Shortly the Bill to establish the new CFI – the Emissions Reduction Fund – will enter the arena of Parliament. We will be lobbying to address the access issues (100 Years, a barrier to farmer involvement) and the farmgate price (an incentive).
   We aim to see soil carbon and other farm-based offsets traded safely and ethically, and growers paid fairly for the carbon they “grow”. The Association also includes in its vision offsets arising from all other forms of on-farm carbon sequestration as well as all forms of agricultural emissions reduction.

            Call Louisa on 02 6374 0329

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