Now the counting is done and appointments made, we can welcome Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, Assistant Minister Jenny McAllister and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt. Climate Friendly Co-CEOs Josh Harris and Skye Glenday have some exciting ideas to share on how Australia can take the opportunity to become a land-based emissions reduction superpower.
As we look ahead to the 47th Parliament, ensuring a high-integrity carbon market to address climate change should be high on the Labor government’s agenda.
Like renewable energy, it offers Australia the opportunity to become a superpower in emissions reduction by using land and proven nature-based methods – referred to as carbon farming – to draw down carbon from the atmosphere.
Labor’s commitments to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030 and strengthen the safeguard mechanism, means demand for high-integrity carbon farming projects is likely to skyrocket, with the spot price for carbon credits already increasing.
And, with only around 1% of land managers currently participating in carbon farming in Australia, our vast land area means we have an immense opportunity to scale up carbon farming.
Analysis by the World Resources Institute and The Nature Conservancy shows that regenerating landscapes has the potential to absorb up to 8.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year through to 2050, while still maintaining native grasslands and current levels of food production. That’s the equivalent of soaking up 23% of global CO2 emissions from the atmosphere every year.
To realise the opportunity to become an emissions reduction superpower, there are three achievable steps for industry and government that must be prioritised.
First, while the new independents, Greens and Labor have been more ambitious in their climate commitments, coalition electorates include many agricultural producers and land managers who can benefit from the transition. The Labor ministers for energy, emissions reduction, and agriculture, as well as the renewables and carbon farming industry, must work hard to support and engage the breadth of our rural, regional, and remote communities. We know from our work in regional Australia that there is considerable support for sustainable land and agricultural management practices that can deliver strong action on climate and increasing interest in carbon farming projects which offer a valuable, diversified source of income.
Second, the Australian carbon market has faced headwinds in the last couple of months, but the fundamentals remain strong. Climate Friendly, and many others in the industry, have called for an independent review of the market to increase transparency and strengthen regulation. The review needs to be conducted by a broad and representative church of experts and stakeholders who can ensure we have a high-integrity carbon market during this climate critical decade.
Finally, a key part of any review should involve looking at how we can rapidly scale-up action to store carbon in the land and capitalise on rapid advances in technology and data science that can make carbon farming viable for more farmers and Traditional Owners.
Climate Friendly has been working with researchers and government, carbon, agriculture, technology, resources, and conservation organisations, as well as directly with farmers and Traditional Owner groups to develop and pilot a new integrated farming method.
This method will enable land managers to implement multiple carbon storage activities under a single project, improving the financial viability of carbon farming and making it easier to adopt the methods across the full diversity of Australian landscapes, agricultural practices and ecosystems.
Expected to be introduced in early 2023, the method will make high quality carbon farming projects available to thousands of land managers and could enable up to 2.5bn tonnes of carbon abatement in Australia over the next ten years. Expediting the introduction of the integrated farming method will expedite benefits for the environment and land managers.
By quickly taking these steps, the new government will put Australia on a path to realise its potential as an emissions reduction superpower.
Josh Harris & Skye Glenday, Co-CEOs of Climate Friendly
Media Enquiries: Nick Albrow, 0408 681 499, Wilkinson Butler