This is an amazing time - I don't think I've lived through a pre-election period like it. The Government is attempting to get through as many things as possible, as even they seem to have accepted the inevitability of the change-over. Meanwhile, the Opposition is in the mode that would normally take place AFTER an election. Politics sure is a funny game. I think it prudent not to assume anything and be aware of what might happen under either scenario.
So, Greg Hunt, shadow minister for climate action, Environment and Heritage has fleshed out more of what will happen in this area should the Opposition win Government. Click here for the full story, but here are the main points for our stakeholders:
• They agree on: 1. The 'science of climate change', 2. the targets to reduce emissions - ie the 5% by 2020 (which may be far too low to actually stall climate change) and 3.on using markets as the best mechanism to reduce emissions.
•They will keep and expand the Carbon Farming Initiative - meaning we have to compete with energy efficiency - which is usually understood to be a cheaper alternative to our 'natural ecosystem' solutions.
They have said they will offer a 25 year project period for these credits - hopefully adding choice - however it will affect price. One of the main things is to 'unblock' the CFI pipeline for farmers - to put the 'farming' back into the Carbon Farming Initiative!
However, to actually stall climate change, we must take many millions of tons out of the atmosphere - and only photosynthesis can do that. ONe day the world will wake up to that reality.
•So, with the Governments 'tax' becoming a market in 2015 - looks like
a market either way. BUT, how do farmers make sure they get a fair
price - that is yet to be played out, but one thing is for sure - Farmers will have to fight to be paid fairly, and have access to more than just the 'Government' as a buyer. This speaks to two things for me:
1. We need a robust Voluntary market - which involves marketing our 'value added' credits at home and abroad. (Value added = improved resilence to climate change, improved productivity and assisting to drought proof Australia) Under the Coalition, they are the only buyers and this is just not enough.
2. We need excellent 'aggregations' - Structures run by farmers, for farmers. NOT just city based businesses - structures where the money from the credits will flow back into the Regions. There is already one such - The Australian Carbon Co operative (ACC). Click here to read a little about them. If ever there was a case for a new farmer co operative, surely the carbon market is one. Greg Hunt acknowledges this "There will be an opportunity for organisations to act as aggregators and
bid into the market as a group. As an example, ....... Farmers may work together to deliver
carbon capture and storage in soil, or landowners to achieve abatement
through revegetation or reafforestation of marginal lands".
So, that is why we'll be raising the profile and understanding of the Voluntary market - up until now the more 'maligned' and dismissed market due to its size. As I've said before, niche markets can work!
We are also talking with the ACC to move those excellent values along for farmers.
Will keep you posted!