Page 18 - Australian Pork Newspaper
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Proactive farming sector key to Australia meeting carbon targets
AN engaged farming sector could tip the odds in Australia’s favour when it comes to meet- ing carbon emission tar- gets, according to new AgriFutures Australia- commissioned research.
A report released re- cently, ‘Improving carbon markets to increase farm- er participation’, carried out by Australian National University and the Mul- lion Group, and funded by AgriFutures Australia, shows current policy and regulatory framework for carbon markets is proving a significant barrier.
AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey said the research addressed a knowledge gap and examined the op- portunities for producers and barriers preventing their participation in car- bon markets.
“This report indicates carbon markets are shap- ing as the incentive for Australian farming indus- tries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a trad- ing environment where CSIRO forecasts carbon market returns of $40 bil- lion to the land sector by 2050,” Mr Harvey said.
“Reducing uptake bar- riers for primary produc- ers may be key to more consistent farmer partici- pation in carbon offset markets.”
He noted the report pointed to low carbon prices and price uncer- tainty, restrictions on the scope of methods, high transaction costs, lack of information and a lack of trust in information pro- viders, as well as concerns about changes in the rules that govern participation and crediting as key issues reducing farmer engage-
ment in carbon markets. Australian Pork Lim- ited and Sugar Research Australia also contributed funding for the research and provided producer in- sights surveying pig farm- ers and the carbon service
Results from the survey
supported report findings which indicated there are generally low levels of awareness of carbon mar- ket opportunities among pig producers, particular- ly among small to medi- um-sized farms.
This contrasts to 100 percent awareness among the largest farms (more than 10,000 sows).
AgriFutures Australia senior manager, business development Jennifer Medway said similarly the lack of adoption of soil carbon projects on sugar cane farms likely stems from lack of awareness of opportunities, high trans- action costs and the small size of many cane farms reducing the viability of projects.
“Increased efforts to raise awareness of carbon market opportunities and further analysis of the economic returns from soil carbon projects could help reduce these barri- ers,” Ms Medway said.
“Enhanced participation in carbon offset markets will lead the sector closer to the forecast $40 billion return.
“It has been shown soil carbon projects result in improved soil health, which can lead to im- proved agricultural pro- ductivity.
“Methane capture can provide a means for gen- erating renewable energy and improving the effi- ciency of intensive farm
operations like piggeries. “Communicating the benefits to producers and simplifying market instru- ments is critical to enable Australia’s agriculture sector to capitalise on car- bon offset opportunities and support Australia’s international commitment
to reducing emissions.” Mr Harvey acknow- ledged the sector’s lead- ership in addressing the
carbon challenge.
“The red meat sector re-
cently announced a bold target to be carbon neutral by 2030,” Mr Harvey said.
“Similarly, the Nation- al Farmers’ Federation is taking a progressive stance in setting a vision through its 2030 Road- map for the whole sec- tor to be trending towards carbon neutrality by 2030.
“While Rural Research and Development Cor- porations and industry are investing heavily in innovative, proactive ap- proaches to address the carbon challenge, there remains a reliance on public investment to fund instruments to deliver on- farm carbon abatement.”
The Australian Govern- ment’s Emissions Reduc- tion Fund is the nation’s primary carbon market and allows landholders to
generate Australian car- bon credit units or ‘carbon credits’ by sequestering carbon or reducing green- house gas emissions.
These credits can be on-sold to companies re- quired to offset carbon- producing projects.
Agriculture has domi- nated ERF to date, with 70 percent of registered projects relating to agri- culture, but uptake from the sector is inconsistent.
“According to this study, most of the uptake to date has involved the regen- eration or protection of native forests on grazing lands in semi-arid regions of Queensland, NSW and, to a lesser extent, Western Australia and South Aus- tralia,” Mr Harvey said.
“Higher carbon prices may boost involvement but is unlikely to be a ‘cure all’ as the research shows non-price factors are inhibiting uptake and require targeted policy re- sponses.
“These include the scope of methods and eligible activities, the absence of cost-effective abatement technologies, the lack of awareness of carbon mar- ket opportunities and the complexity and transac- tion costs associated with participation.”
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Page 18 – Australian Pork Newspaper, August 2019
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