Our democracy – the need to educate, to influence better environmental outcomes

Increasingly you might hear the comment – we don’t have a democracy anymore and all that we get is push marketing and the pedaling of misinformation. We are told what to think, act and what we feel in order to react ‘appropriately’. Scenario the phone rings – hello, its Adrian mate and if you don’t want to let the community down you will adopt our stance, you don’t want to let the sky fall do you?  You react and say hang on I am a good upstanding community member….you are hooked and steered into a psychological twist.

Whatever scenario you want to paint on the issue a properly functioning democracy requires an educated, well-informed and proactive community. Backing this thread up is a quote from the Executive Director at Liana Downey & Associates – Strategic Advisors to Governments and Nonprofits – contributing to the discussion about the morality of government and some leaders on action on climate change – “I think it just strengthens the impetus to keep educating, and keep moving forward, particularly for those of us with a good understanding of the science. I have had plenty conversations with reasonable, educated professionals who admitted they just weren’t sure if “all this climate change stuff” was really an issue. We have to take the time to acknowledge doubts, and respond to concerns in an informed way that doesn’t patronize people but allows for conversation and progress. Who says there isn’t scope to address the concerns of the cynics? 

This would be an easy time to fall into despair – it’s certainly tempting. But it’s also the most important time to step up, be clear about the facts, and help lead. Government are obviously important players, but not the only decision makers or leaders in our society. There is still plenty of scope to help shape thoughtful sustainable investments, shift consumer and corporate behavior, and keep doing what we know to be right to protect future generations”.

Then we have the comment by Michael O’Flynn – Sustainability and Financial Risk Consultant: “The real culprits are the politicians with their lack of accountability, aspects of the media who cherry-pick “evidence” to push their backer’s agenda, large immoral corporations and their executives who simply care about profits, rates of return and $$$bonuses and some of the mega-rich. We are basically facing a fight between the gung-ho capitalist model who call for less regulation and as happens, have the big bucks and consider all resources as simply a means to derive a profit first and foremost, versus the people. 

It wasn’t so long ago that the god-Father of the current Libs, John Howard and supposedly the Libs too, were keen on an ETS. Exhibit A for long-term culpability for any inaction.”

CO2Land org finds this potent stuff, maybe a little emotive, but puts the point across vey well – we are influenced as opposed led. So is the real problem that we have ourselves to blame, that we are followers and not leaders – short answer is not everyone can be the leader. But, we need to stay focused and committed and advocate for what we believe is right. The Adrian example at the beginning of this post was and example of an advocate that recognized that public opinion and political policies are never static and will ebb and flow. Even from within governments positions on issues are not necessarily entrenched within the Party’s or even its voters. It is a case of reacting from the popularity base both within and outside the party and will influence those that make the hard decisions. A documented illustration of this is in Australia where a newly elected Government is already facing rough times over the party’s previous support of climate change policies such as the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). With the current Prime Minister saying his party does not support the view that climate change is real, and then others within, such as the popular Malcolm Turnbull, openly being supportive of an ETS. This suggests we will be in for more push polling efforts and misinformation peddling is in the wings. Sadly it will also auger well for those that will react with ‘we will review this matter’ and behind the scenes say – no further action required it will go away! He recipe for ‘seeing to be doing and not doing at all’!

CO2Land org will argue that until the opposition parties start acting professionally we can expect nothing more than talk on what is needed on meaningful climate change policies. But either way, neither the government nor the opposition parties can exempt themselves from being detrimental to the obvious environmental dangers we are facing now, and merely taking the arguments to the next election will just be too late.

Thank you to those that contributed to this thread – it shows the potential that there is still some really positive discussion going on. It also put into focus, what recently happened when the Australian Climate Council was established as a privately funded model after the government of the day chose to abandon public funding for its predecessor. We speculate that the thinking behind the funding denial was that it would put aside the issues the entity has uncovered. It might actually come back to bite the climate change deniers and we might even see better outcomes for the betterment of how society views the working of our democracy.

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RET designs – Abbotititis or Rudasinus.

Do you have Abbotititis or Rudasinus. Bored with the election being in your face yet not meaning a thing.  Then there is ‘real’ again – It just means it will be reviewed and in the mean time your asset is at risk of being stranded because of the ‘Election’. You are told any decisions will need to be taken with a view of caretaker convention and then we will wait until the ‘dust settles’ and the view of the incoming Government is known.  Can you understand the frustration? Promises are being made yet we are told they are real until after the election!

Now lets look at the promised policy positions:

The Coalition talks of ‘real’ abatement in terms of energy efficiency. The flagstone is the Direct Action Plan. This plan will or may impact your business. We say this because the White Paper consultative process that the Coalition will initiate will only be known should they win office. Yes the ‘real’ is it will be a consultative process expressed as the opportunity for your business to provide input into the design of this ‘potential’ new policy framework. In more simple terms it means the details are not yet developed. However, the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has a commitment from the Coalition to retain a 5% to 25% reduction of emissions by 2020 compared with 2000 levels, but will review this commitment in 2015 (then other statements say 2014). That said they intend to wind back many of the provisions of the Clean Energy Future Plan including abolishing the carbon price and disbanding the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, the Climate Commission and the Energy Security Fund. Then we should note the Coalition intends to expand the existing Emissions Reduction Fund to introduce a buyback, and also plans to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative to achieve emissions reductions in the absence of an explicit carbon price – but the reductions must be ‘real’ against baselines ‘to be advised’.

It is most likely the Coalition’s plans to meet emissions commitments will be more disruptive to electricity supply industries and their downstream industries than labor’s.

Labor (why is it called Labor?) – Reported is among other things, this name makes it easier to distinguish references to the Party from the labour movement in general. Source(s): http://www.alp.org.au/australian-labor/l…

Maybe that is ‘unreal’!

 

Labor has two major policies for abatement changes. Continuing of the Clean Energy Future Plan, and the review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).  The current RET compels large energy users to invest in renewable energy. This is to the benefit of industries such as wind and, up to an including hydro-electricity. The RET purpose is to introduce more capacity into electricity markets and push down wholesale electricity prices. Therefore the RET is challenging for fossil fuel electricity generators, and the changes will affect them directly and the upstream industries, including oil and gas extraction, brown coal mining and black coal mining, indirectly.

 

That said, Labor is committed to a 5% to 25% reduction of emissions by 2020 compared with 2000 levels, and an 80% reduction on 2000 levels by 2050. Labor has also taken the position and made an announcement of an early transition from the carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme in July 2014, bringing it forward from the previous announcement of 2015. Under the scheme the carbon dioxide equivalent would have a floating price linked to the prices of the EU’s emissions trading scheme. Under this policy, the price per tonne for carbon dioxide is likely to be discounted. The impact uncertainty is what will be the effect on the industry assistance packages included within the Clean Energy Future Plan.

Co2Land org said Labor supports the current 20% RET. This still holds true, as the responsible Department (name too long to mention) and advised work on the review of RET is suspended until further notice, and Labor has made a commitment to not review the target until 2016.

Labor’s changes to the Clean Energy Future Plan will create new winners and losers across energy-intensive industries. Labor’s changes maintain a pricing mechanism as a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

 

Co2Land org has noted IBISWorld’s August 2013 Report has a more detailed outline of the positions taken by the Labor and Coalition parties on major issues impacting Australian industry including workplace reform, energy, resources, broadband network, transport infrastructure, manufacturing and education. They write:

“The 2013 Federal Government election will be dominated by concerns about the economy. The end of the mining investment boom and the continued decline of the manufacturing sector have set a pessimistic tone among Australian businesses.

The Labor Government has taken a ‘glass half full’ approach, pointing out Australia’s strong economic position relative to other advanced economies and successful economic guidance during the global financial crisis.

In contrast, the Coalition points out a widening Federal Budget deficit, a declining economic growth rate, low business confidence and a weak economic performance relative to neighbouring countries.

The winner of the election will have to balance the government’s role to provide fiscal stimulus and counter-cyclical spending with budget responsibility and a plan to reduce government debt.

The Productivity Commission has estimated that there are $12 billion worth of cost-cutting and efficiency savings available to the Federal Government.

The Coalition has backed away from providing a date for a return to surplus, but asserts it will be sooner than a Labor surplus.

Labor forecasts a return to budget surplus in 2016-17, driven by savings made during 2015-16 and 2016-17 when the economy is expected to be in a healthier state than it is presently.”

 

Wait a minute, recently the coalition did say they aim to save $31B – now we are confused – will the ‘real’ number please stand?

Please note: No Green was hurt in this discussion.

Makers – a Viable CFI methodology

Recently a discussion group was asked for information on the area needed to make a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology viable. I follows the answer is not as simple as it should be and part of the problem is the rules can change and even the responsible entity itself might change. This statement is not an example of a remote possibility, it is very much what is likely to happen.

First issue: The market.

Currently a Australian Carbon Credit Unit is reported as holding steady at approximately the Carbon Price Mechanism expectation of $23 (actually ACCU spot price is $22.60 at 4 April 2013). Compared to the trading prices of others. For example the Carbon + Market Daily (www.cedaily.com.au) shows European Union Allowances (EUA eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $7.48 – no change) 
* Certified Emission Reductions (CER eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $0.67 – up 6.4%) 
* New Zealand Units (NZU spot can’t be used to meet liabilities under the Australian scheme: NZD $1.97 – down 2.5%) 
* Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU spot Kyoto units issued under the CFI that can be used to help meet Australian scheme liabilities: AUD $22.60 – no change). They also report of conflicting market drivers, and this is in addition to the Coalition threats to dismantle the carbon price mechanism, that the European market is struggling to hold above EUR5 on moderate volumes. Problems include:

1) An increasing likelihood that backloading will be passed as more countries come out in support of the proposal; and

2) High auction volumes relative to emitter demand.

3) Increased selling in the New Zealand market as more participants’ look to switch out of their NZUs and into cheaper international units.

4) June 2016 prices for EUAs and CERs reflect the cost of these units to an entity liable under the Australian scheme’s floating price phase.

5) The EUA (December 2013 contract) is a focus as this drives price movements and is a key indicator of EU (European Union) market sentiment.

Conclusion – first issue: Transactions involving carbon give rise to substantial risk (including regulatory risk) and are not suitable for all investors. It is recommend that you seek your own independent legal or financial advice before proceeding with any investment decision

Second issue: Carbon Auction Rules.

The Clean Energy Regulator is likely to be required to offer 60 million carbon units in 2013-14 under draft carbon auction rules. The potential is the opening price is at 60% of the international market price. Follow the link of the

exposure draft of a carbon auction determination, and it will outlines arrangements for auctions that are set to begin next financial year.

If you are relying on an incoming Coalition Government to repeal the determination, you should note s113(9) of the Clean Energy Act allows the Regulator to hold auctions even without the determination. It might not be so simple as a statement to win votes – it is written in stone so to speak.

Conclusion – Second issue: Without control of the senate, or if the senate is hostile, a Coalition repeal instrument would be disallowable. This introduces additional risk, and additional to regulatory risk. As in the first issue it is recommended you seek your own independent and financial and legal advice.

Third Issue: ACCU methodology.

It costs up to $1M to develop a methodology acceptable under CFI. Once accepted the transaction cost to create the ACCU’s is said to be about $70,000. Although it is not a definite cost, it can be less but a reasonable guide and it requires you to look carefully at the potential yield of each project and whether you can smear the transaction cost across the entire project to determine the minimum size for it to be a worthwhile program.

One way to develop a methodology and reduce your cost base is to apply to the 

Methodology Development Program (MDP) for a grant to develop the methodology. The 

MDP is a 
$19.6 million for the development of methodologies for use in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The fund is administered by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE).

However, recently the Government has moved from 26 March 2013 that DCCEE be in transition to be part of a new super department called the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. 

It is reported as a move the Australian Government hopes will be seen as logical and a way to portray that climate change is taken seriously across all of government and across all portfolios. Details changes are yet to be fully announced, albeit it is known the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy has changed with 140 projects, 33 university programs and 100 researchers affected – source ABC.net.au.

Conclusion – Third issue: Before expending too much time on the methodology. The suggestion is you follow up on who would administer the program post transition to the super department, and the will to continue with the program. Any changes will have cost implications for your efforts.

If only we had certainty!

Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge—Auctions) Amendment Bill 2012 – passed

The seven bills passed the Senate, and the Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge—Auctions) Amendment Bill 2012, without amendments, by 34 votes to 28 on Monday night, 26 Nov 2012. The Australian ETS will link to the EU ETS and all that is required for law is Royal Assent.

What is a bill? A bill is a proposal for a law or a change to an existing law. A bill becomes law (an Act) when agreed to in identical form by both houses of Parliament and assented to by the Governor-General.

Reference source: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r4896

Progress of the amendment bill include:

  • House of Representative introduced and read first time 19 September 2012 to six other presentations and the third reading agreed on 11 October 2012;
  • SENATE introduced and read first time 11 October 2012 to eight other presentations where the text of bill as passed both Houses was announced on 26 November 2012.

Some advocates for the carbon price are disappointed that this passage means the end of the $15 floor price of the original premise for the local scheme, and that argument can be respected.

Albeit the bill has passed relatively quickly and by the numbers, there is little or no support to be found with the executive of the opposition leadership. On ‘the far side’, excuse the reference to cartoon characterization, it is still preferred to retort to name calling and demonization of anyone with fortitude to promote change. The question that will remain until tested is: Will we regret tying ourselves to the EU scheme, as that scheme has shown weakness in its auction system and has required intervention to stay afloat?  CO2Land org will speculate the answer is we would be far more exposed if we did not take the step. We are not alone.

Apart from the deniers the evidence is we have to go with the system. This is further emphasized when most of the industries and the economies evolve around the need for the certainty. The ETS systems bring with them a market to focus on and give them a need for the market to plan for their future in the carbon constrained world.

It is still very perplexing as to why climate change deniers can say “a bigger con than ours as it has achieved zero except make some feel good”, “they don’t call her Juliar for nothing”.  ‘They’ can easily traced to the opposition and the rallying against the carbon tax and vowing to repeal it if in government.

The opposition tack is shallow and continues to describe the carbon tax as a shambles, despite no evidence of any magnitude of negative affects being demonstrated because of the price. The greater threat to energy prices is all gaming activities on energy prices, a lackluster energy regulatory regime and the need for revenue gains for cash strapped States. Posted on September 14, 2012 by co2land The cold hard facts on state finances can be taken from this table:

  NSW VIC QLD WA SA TAS
2011/12 -$940 -$811 na -$178 -$120 -$80
2012/13 -$1000 -$635 na -$284 -$400 -$120

Table: Estimated impact of GST reduction on State budgets, 2011/12 and 2012/13 ($m). Source: State budget papers

The greater danger is the A bot leadership is to do not a thing to genuinely address the need for certainty, other than promise to repeal the legislation and leave us isolated from the global benefits. The tragic comedy continues where one Nationals senator Ron Boswell said as quoted by the ABC on renewable energy targets and the carbon price driving up electricity prices. “Australia is in an expensive energy hole right now because … of the carbon tax, and it is time we stop digging”. No need to comment on that one, it answers itself as to what is the problem!

CO2Land org notes carbon pricing was one of the most significant changes to the Australian economy, it will be enduring but not endearing and it will be important for business to know the way to calculate the environmental cost of their activities. Otherwise they may be penalized by those places where emitters pay. We are not alone and not going to be alone. The EU ETS is followed by California’s first auction sellout – they have even found some businesses have experienced outstanding business performance in the carbon markets and plan awards ceremonies for same, and China’s planned expansion to position itself as number 2 ETS market ahead of California should give confidence to our businesses and innovators that understand the importance of carbon and to be a sustainable entity. Posted on November 14, 2012 by co2land “The official start for California’s Carbon Pollution Allowances purchase of permits at auction starts 14 November 2012.” In a previous story California’s ‘carbon market mandate’ posted on 9 October 2012 by co2land it was said “Looking at what the Californian’s have done: They have taken the approach that big business can be encouraged from polluting the environment”. The http://news.yahoo.com/california-sells-first-pollution-permits-222337650.html reports on 19 November 2012 that the sellout of 23.1M permits attracted $10.09 each.

If you need more, or need to know what all this really means to the two way linking of the EU ETC, the AU ETS and Carbon pricing following is the Federal Government’s link on the agreement

Download the PDF

Australia and European Commission agree on pathway towards fully linking emissions trading systems (88 kB)

 

 

second largest carbon market in the world – kick-off

The official start for California’s Carbon Pollution Allowances purchase of permits at auction starts 14 November 2012. The occasion is described as historic and obliges the state’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters― like power plants and large manufacturers to participate and is expected to pump billions of dollars, in the next year, into California’s economy.

In a previous story California’s ‘carbon market mandate’ posted on 9 October 2012 by co2land it was said “Looking at what the Californian’s have done: They have taken the approach that big business can be encouraged from polluting the environment, and they can be simultaneously funding green industries through an auction permit system. The move is under the California state passed Assembly Bill 1532 (AB 1532), also known as the “carbon market mandate.” It is labeled as a boon for the state, environmentally and financially. Significant fees are levied to major corporate polluters, and those fees are invested into eco-friendly businesses that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The state aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.”

Then more recently on 12 Nov 2012, EcoWatch org posted  “Four Facts About California’s First-Ever Carbon Auction” focused on a post by Emily Reyna about the Environmental Defense Fund. In the preface she referenced President Obama’s remarks about action against a “warming planet” and said all eyes will be on California’s first ever cap-and-trade auction for pollution permits, and it will be the second largest carbon market in the world. This market is second only to the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

The risk for the auction is low according to the author and even individuals can buy if they wish, and a practice run was held in August 2012 to test the systems.

She offers more information about the nuts and bolts of the auction can be read here, and directly quoting the view of the author on the claims of the program:

“1. This is the best designed cap-and-trade program in the world
California has the good fortune of learning from predecessor cap-and-trade programs like the European Union Emissions Trading Platform, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and the Acid Rain Program, just to name a few. Key elements of California’s program include giving free allowances to industry in the beginning years to help with transition; letting entities bank allowances for future use; and establishing an allowance reserve in case prices exceed a certain value. All help keep carbon prices more stable and make for a well-functioning market.

2. A price will be established for carbon, but that will vary as the program evolves
The California program will include auctions four times a year through 2020—32 more times after November 2012. As such, the number of participants, the settlement price and other results of the first auction may not necessarily predict the activity of future auctions. Over time, the market will change and both prices and participation will fluctuate as the cap reduces and businesses decide how best to participate.

3. Money from the auctions will be used to invest in California’s clean energy future
Proceeds from the auction must be invested in ways that further the goals of the law—the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). Though these investments are scheduled to start in the next fiscal year, a specific investment plan is still underway and is being guided by two bills passed at the end of California’s legislative session. Likely project categories include renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced vehicles and natural resource conservation. In addition, 25 percent of proceeds must be used in ways that benefit disadvantaged communities. These investments will boost clean tech in California, improve air quality and create jobs.

4. California’s leadership will serve as a launch pad for other programs
California is the ninth largest economy on the planet, and the world is watching. No state or country can stop climate change alone, but California’s environmental policies have a history of success and replication, including clean car, clean fuel and energy efficiency standards that have saved consumers across the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in avoided energy purchases. If the past is any indicator, California’s rich history of leading the nation on responses to critical environmental problems, while delivering wide ranging benefits, means the U.S. is on the brink of something special.

A public notice of the auction results will be released on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, and will be posted to both the Air Resources Board and auction website.”

CO2Land org offers that you might like to visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

Farm related posts – Production, Landcare, Investments

Farmers make up less than 1% of the Australian population today and feeds 600 people – in 1950, an Australian farmer fed 20 people – in 1970, the farmer fed 200 people. Source: Lynne Strong, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30 Aug 2012.

Artificial fertilizer costs too much and the dairy industry is returning to the use of nitrogen fixing perennial clovers in its pasture mix to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. Source: Joanne Bills, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30 Aug 2012.

The global dairy trade is increasing every year by between 9-10 billion litres of milk – equivalent to the size of the entire Australian industry each year. Source: BRW 12 July 2012.

A Tasmanian dairy farm has Australia’s first rotation platform that milks 24 cows without human involvement – separate robots prepare and clean the teats, attach the suction cups and disinfect the teats after milking. Source: BRW 12 July 2012.

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter operates the largest and most efficient dairy processing site in Australia – Bega Cheese owns 17% of the company. Source: AFR 03 Nov 2012.

Research in the UK has found that organic farms are less energy intensive than conventional farming – but they are also less productive – that means organic livestock have higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of milk or meat. Source: NRM on Farms 04 Sept 2012. 

Dr Carole Hungerford of Bathurst links the health of the population to the health of its food – she says that you can’t get healthy animals from unhealthy land – she relates disease and illness to deficiencies in soils – in turn creating deficiencies in foods – she notes that 1 Australian dies every 2 hours from bowel cancer. Source: National Landcare 04 Sept 2012.

Asa Walquist, writer on rural affairs, says that animal products supply one third of the world’s protein – if livestock were eliminated, half as much again of vegetable protein crops would have to be produced to replace meat – but the shift from pasture to cropping would lead to a reduction in soil carbon – increasing soil carbon will be critical to Australia’s future carbon balance – Walquist says that the most effective way to increase carbon levels in soil used for agriculture is to return some crop land to well-managed pasture, preferably native pasture. Source: NRM on Farms 04 Sept 2012.

In the Western Sydney Parklands of over 5,000 hectares, 500 hectares have been reserved for urban farming – small plots are being leased to farmers to keep a food basin close to the capital city. Source: SMH 27 Oct 2012.

Financial losses from events related to weather in Australia have risen 4 fold over the past 30 years according to reinsurance corporation Munich. Source: SMH 27 Oct 2012.

60% of Australia’s researchers work in universities – the highest percentage of any modern economy. Source: AFR 03 Nov 2012.

The driver of the growth will come from improvements in productivity – labour productivity per person in China is only 20% of that of the US – in India and Indonesia it is about 10%. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Over the next 20 years almost 9 out of 10 new middle-class consumers worldwide will emerge in the Asian region. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Asia will be home to 4 of the 10 biggest economies within 13 years according to the Asian Century White Paper – China, India, Japan and Indonesia. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Between 2005 and 2011, US-based corporations invested $550 billion in Australia compared with $20 billion from China-based companies. Source: The Australian 16 Aug 2012.

Chinese consumers have developed a liking for Starbucks, pizza, Haagen-Dazseven and even Santa – they prefer western brands to domestic competitors. Source: The Deal Aug 2012.

95% of Chinese investment in Australia over the past 6 years was made by state-owned enterprises – nearly $50 billion over the last 5 years and mainly in mining and energy. Source: SMH 25 Aug 2012.

Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 51% last year to $19 billion – Australian investment in China grew by 278% to $17 billion. Source: The Australian 26 Oct 2012.

Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, thinks that for the next few years the US will be more internally focused – and that China and India won’t be willing to step up and assume the responsibility that comes with size – he believes that this creates a major opportunity for responsible companies to step up to be a force for good. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

Unilever’s targets for 2020 are: to help more than 1 billion people improve their hygiene habits and bring safe drinking water to 500 million people – and halve the greenhouse gas impact of the company’s products across their lifecycle, from sourcing to consumer use and disposal – also to halve the water consumption associated with the consumer, particularly in countries that are populous and water-scarce – plus halve the waste associated with the disposal of products. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

Unilever currently sources 10% of agricultural raw materials sustainably – by the end of this year it aims to source 30% – by 2015 50% – and by 2020 100% – by 2020 it also aims to link 500,000 smallholder farmers and small-scale distributors into its supply chain. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

The Indigenous Land Corporation has gained approval under the Carbon Farming Initiative to earn up to $500,000 a year by selling carbon credits from projects combating savannah wildfires on its Fish River property south of Darwin. Source: The Age 02 Nov 2012.

  • CO2Land org queries the Fish River story and asks where this number comes from as it is unlikely in free trade the price will be higher than $AU10 for some time, and the Government itself in a media release said the number of credits generated from the exercise is 20,000 per annum – simple arithmetic = $200,000. It is most likely the number of $500,000 is a Carbon Tax transitional number and not a continuing expectation.  You might notice we posted Unfinished business, The EU ETS continues (Posted on July 17, 2012 by co2land). The story is about the need of the managers to artificially prop up the price after falling values. “To counter this the European Commission proposes to withhold permits and boost prices by “backloading” auctioning. That is delaying sales due next year until later in the 2013-2020 trading phase. This strategy is designed to maintain the EU carbon prices at no lower than €8.” It follows that Australia has elected to follow the EU ETS and make a transition from the Carbon Price (Carbon Tax) to the market.

Co2Land org thanks Garry Reynolds Caring for our Country National Coordinator, Business and Industry – for the inputs.

EOI – the label of convenience at risk

Calling for an Expression of Interest (EOI) gives the impression of progressive policy, but ‘paused development’ is often the result. A high risk for innovation and innovators to participate is the loss of Intellectual Property (IP). In more recent times it is common for government to test reactions to hard issues that are deemed to be important, and there is a belief finding acceptance of ‘real’ truth of the purpose – the use of EOI to assign work to institutions that have been otherwise denied funding at the expense of genuine innovation. Legally this is acceptable, but the morals are questionable when you consider that the ideas come from innovation and the innovators and they are at risk of loss of IP. Before participating in EOI invitations, the best defence could be to better understand Intellectual Property Law – starting with 101.

CO2Land org can give numerous examples of brilliant ideas. Many of these fail to be taken up because the main need was not correctly evaluated. In short a market was either not ready or the opportunity for the market to mature was outside the timeframe to sustain a reasonable return to run a business.  The carbon market is a very good example of brilliant ideas and correct intentions and misreading the timeframes. It follows that the space is a long way from being mature and it is complex as we have green markets, carbon markets and clean markets and a lot of individuals and entities wanting to be in the place where it is seen to be happening.

When we have a commodity we are well protected by our reputation and brand and the profile of what is offered carries warnings on ethical behaviours and legislation for protection. It is acceptable for the society to do this especially where the standards are deficient or omit adequate definition of the goods or services. Despite all this, as an innovator, it is very difficult to protect yourself and your intellectual property. Why? Because most participants establish their trademark/logo believing it is not necessary to establish reputation in the right of the mark. If someone comes along and does a better job of using the trademark or borrowed a look of your trademark to show a better use of it – they have the reputation not you. Also it is important to consider a reputation is not a single dimension it can be words with the addition of pictures, sounds, smells, colours and shapes.  Another question related to trade marks is different entities in different classes of specific goods and services need to be named in the specific classes. It would be prudent to check this matter out if you are moving from one market opportunity to another!

Starting up 101 – Intellectual Property (IP) is just a label of convenience! IP is a number of things that range from subject matter to rights. IP falls into categories in order to get rights and longevity over those rights. The significance of the difference makes the difference in the context of enforcing rights. Conversely you cannot enforce rights you do not have.

In relation to EOI – it could be argued you are permitting others to use or exploit your IP. Before participating you should take the matter up with a specialist IP Lawyer.

Background of what is IP in practice (Australia):

IP Matter Process to approve IP Type Definite Time
Innovation/Inventions yes Patents Yes
Genuine confidential and trade secrets no Trade Secrets and confidential information (not trivial) no – but you must maintain secrecy/confidentiality
Plant varieties yes Plant breeders rights yes
Visual features of a product yes Registered design yes
Signs distinguishing goods or services provided yes Registered trade mark Rollover by renewal fees paid
Original works and aligned subject matter (written down ideas) no Copyrights yes
Original layouts of semiconductor circuits no Circuit layout rights yes

lower project risks for issuance of carbon credits – Farmers benefit

Carbon Pricing was expected to increase farm costs by $3.2b in Australia at the fixed price of $23 per tonne CO2-e (increasing at 2.5% per annum for three years). Then after 28 August 2012: You may have been confused when the announcement from the government said we will synchronize with European Emissions Trading scheme by 2015 and effects will be felt immediately and most definitely from 2014 where we can expect our ceiling cap to be set by a European communities. This can be taken to be a positive step and as we (serious about economics) know economies of scale give more certainty to the market. One thing has not changed is the point where the market will fully transition to a flexible price determined by the market.

Being that Industry intelligence is vital for a successful business, it is right to ask questions and have data provided to be analyzed and have the facts assembled and crafted into a response. So without political spin we should give a bit of the background on Agriculture in Australia:

Agriculture accounts for about 15% of Australia’s total emissions, but it is notoriously difficult to narrow a number of the sector individual parts for what they contribute. It varies a lot and is in part why the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Plan for the carbon price does not apply to Australia’s agriculture sector, which means that farmers are not liable to pay a direct tax on carbon emissions. Farmers are also exempt from paying tax on their fuel consumption until 2014, when the government will begin to tax carbon emissions from heavy on-road transport.

Lets examine what CO2Land org also thinks is part of the reason agriculture is not applied to the carbon pricing, and it stems from the wording ‘carbon’. In Australia we legislated there are six greenhouse gases and each has different lasting affects on the global warming and climate actions. For instance:

  • Livestock farming is carbon which of which largely depends on how you count it and it can be greater than 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is attributed with at least 75% of agriculture carbon.
  • Pasture and grain growers’ account for at least 15% of the sector’s emissions. This is also very difficult to measure as much depends on the amount of fertilizer use, crop residue burning and harvesting activities.
  • Other factors that affect the sector are drought conditions, changes in livestock numbers, pasture quality and commodity prices affect on demand.

Therefore the issue for the industry with the carbon price is the indirect costs under the carbon price conditions, primarily in the form of higher prices for farming inputs and production. The rise in freight and fuel-based costs beyond 2014 will detract from the bottom line, as it will become more expensive to transport livestock and get fresh produce to market.  Now if the carbon price after 2014 is more likely to be stabilized by a more efficient global market scheme it should be reasonable to assume those price rises will be lower than predicted. Lets take a punt and say annual growth of agriculture production will increase or remain steady in 2014-15 and not decline by around 1%. This should indicate revenue impact of the introduction of Carbon pricing is now not as severe (it is worth noting that transport cost are around 16% of co2 emission in the farming product) and a more stable pricing mechanism will have direct downstream pricing benefits for farms. Therefore farmers should have a more relaxed view of the situation than previously.

CO2Land org was sent a notice that ( www.ibisworld.com.au ) IBISWorld published a special report on Carbon Pricing in June 2012 on the state of play as was seen at that time, and this in part formed this comparison to conclude the latest move to European Trading Scheme should be a good move. Reason: Likelihood of indirect costs not rising to the levels predicted and a near complete counter to the increase in on-road fuel costs from 2014. And, less discount on our buyers and sellers actions in forward sellers markets – lower project risks for issuance of carbon credits for developers.

Carbon price -positive posts today

Carbon price featured in two positive posts today. Both would give some certainty to farmers under carbon offsets schemes. The first was reported by AAP, 28 August 2012, on what CO2Land org has tipped and that is that the European Emission Trading scheme was in a state of change and ultimately, all markets will benefit from these changes: The Australian Government announced plans to link Australia’s scheme to Europe’s emissions trading scheme from 2015. Also announced was an equally important event, The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Carbon Farming Initiative team, announced the opening of Expressions of Interest for grants funding to develop carbon farming methods.

Why are the two linked? Aspects of both effect Australian companies that will be able to sell credits in Europe and farmers wanting some certainty to the ability to generate credits through changes to their land practices, and that had an issue in that it was well posted Australia might not have generated sufficient credits to meet the domestic demand.

The link is also important for project developers that are used to assigning risk to issuance of carbon credits and they can now be more certain that the projects will conform to pricing expectation without the need to vary or discount. Without it the only other option was to assign a risk to earlier transactions and take a greater discount.

What else is good? Currently Europe permits are trading for about 8 euro (high $9) and traders can offer that to you now to meet future liabilities. Sorry Tony, this means the carbon price will most likely be cheaper for Australian businesses by the effective date and possibly before, and the beauty of it is the European Union will be the one that will put the brakes on if things get too aggressive. Yes, someone else to watch over the price.

What else would farmers like? Current restrictions of the liability that can be met by overseas carbon schemes will be more price friendly through the European Scheme and that scheme will become a floating-price emissions trading scheme and the Australian linkage to Europe will be a free market with price advantages that can be traded without affecting the level of carbon cuts needed.

We will leave the clean energy advantages for another post.

 

Unfinished business, The EU ETS continues

The European Investment Bank auctioned emissions permits to raise funds for low-carbon energy technologies, with an emphasis on the benefits of carbon capture and storage(CCS). This was a particular benefit opportunity for Europe’s larger source of CO2 emissions.

The EU quota of emissions permits is called EU permits (EUAs). The Climate Speculator is quoted as saying: “The European Commission on Thursday said it expected to raise between €1.3 billion and €1.5 billion by October to support two to three CCS plants, plus some renewable energy projects from auctioning 200 million EUAs, the first tranche of sales to raise a total of €300 million.

It is widely seen as a disappointment that the original expectations of the EU’s original pre-crisis objective in 2007 to build 10-12 CCS projects will not happen in the timeframes. To blame , the EU financial crisis has taken us to a different place.

The EU’s emissions trading scheme caps the emissions of factories and power plants, and, since 2005 they have got most EUAs for free in a gradual transition to the market to assist the bigger polluters ranging from coal plants to steel mills. Opposition to the scheme is that bigger polluters captured windfall profits.

In the transitional process to the market, from 2013, most power plants will have to source their EUAs under State or EU-run auctions. Sales run by the European Investment Bank in 2012 were a forerunner of that, and are to raise funds for innovative low-carbon technologies and to benefit CCS technologies.

The problem that is now apparent is that the market is too readily participated in and this puts pressure on the attempts to stabilize the carbon price. To counter this the European Commission proposes to withhold permits and boost prices by “backloading” auctioning. That is delaying sales due next year until later in the 2013-2020 trading phase. This strategy is designed to maintain the EU carbon prices at no lower than €8.

CO2land org sees some parallels with the situation in Australia where political opposition oppose carbon prices, which is claimed to raise electricity prices. Do not be surprised if a new advocate springs up named something like ‘real carrot to dangle in front of ministers’ noses”.

Credit for the original story on EU ETS goes to Gerard Wynn Published 16 Jul 2012. ”The Climate Speculator source is ‘This article was originally published by Reuters. Republished with permission.’