CFI – a XANADU

If you follow that Shangdu as the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s empire, then you would be forgiven for thinking the CFI is our XANADU and an enigmatic bright feature on the surface. Thereby, we have a problem because it is being profiled as exactly that and actively marketed by government as a series of experiments to showcase. Practitioners are asking: What about us in the ‘real’ world, can we believe something that looks good on the surface is enough? Some say yes, many no.

This conversation started because projects are to be funded that address recognised program gaps of the Carbon Farming Futures activities. This round: The Extension and Outreach Phase two submissions were due Wednesday June 12 5pm. Information is be found on Extension and Outreach daff.gov.au.

Some disquiet continues and numerous amounts of feedback do focus on the issue of the bankable when needing to finance, and other is the number of reference groups that were set up to work through the matters and the concern some of the critical consultation groups are difficult to contact or not able to be mobilized. A prime example being: The Biochar Reference Group. After some searching key people advocating the approach found part of the problem was people moving on to further their personal interests. The difficulty is that the group has funding to develop the soil carbon methodology necessary to be approved by the DOIC to produce ACCU’s (carbon credit units), and although soil carbon methodologies now has an active ‘reference group’ to attempt to push it along, the two subgroups (Mixed farming, and Rangelands) do not, or have not formally communicated what each are up to in their work levels. Compounding this the CFI is looking less of a ‘farming’ initiative in terms of reward systems, and as of the time of writing the government has not produced an example of a good news story on a true ‘farming’ credit. It is difficult to sell virtues without success stories and Gant chart the project support from the farming community without it.

A closer look at the cost of participating is also most interesting, and it is easy to see another genuine hurdle is related to the methodologies development. There is considerable variation in calculating the cost of participating, and some use this as an excuse that farmers are simply not ready to seek approval of their methods, some say it is simply too expensive to get approval. Some even say there is a genuine disinterest for government to get on with ‘innovation’ attempts.

In terms of cost we need to consider that published 8 April 2013 by Co2Land.org: ” 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”.  Then Country Carbon ( www.CountryCarbon.com.au ) said the numbers posted by CO2land of transaction cost of $70k for ACCUs are ridiculous. They made no attempt to say what is a typical transaction cost other than a comment, and the spokesperson (identified as NC) said “I have no idea where they sourced those”. Curiously NC goes on to say: “The Clean Energy Regulator register shows only a few projects from farmers and only 1 I believe has done a transaction. 
I doubt very much that every methodology needs $1 million for development as well. Too many variables to generalize”.

Co2Land org agrees that too many variables are involved, and then notes two other people advocating for the CFI saying: “None of the methodologies applicable to general farming, that we have examined so far, appear to have net positive financial benefits. Some can lead to substantial unknown liabilities in the future or limit land use in overly prescriptive ways. 

If I am wrong in this please correct me, and show me where it does work and I will be happy to spread the good news”. 

And, “I am a farmer (even if less active than I would like) and all the ones I know are not only not ready to adopt but are only following the program with peripheral interest until such times that they are satisfied something of genuine benefit to their own operation has become apparent. Many I have talked to see it as another under handed greenie grab for the land, some of the prescriptions on approved methodologies certainly seem lifted from this camp. 

Methodology development using all our substantial ‘in house’ skills and resources we estimate to still cost in excess of $100,000 with no guarantee of success “(source identified as PK). Then source LK – not related, said “Many unresolved issues remain, however moving ahead is better than waiting for the ‘perfect’ answer in my view. Just wish for political consistency at this end – the fact that State Coalitions have stripped climate change policies bare is of most concern to me.”

In all this there does seem to be agreement that for farmers, environmental planting does not pay a sufficient return to justify the investment on carbon alone. NC also said “It is also considered that the RMT tool (modeling tool) is deliberately using carbon sequestration estimates well below average because no direct sampling is required for audit”. Possibly this is an oversight, maybe not? In this approach they have taken an ultra conservative approach and the indications are these carbon estimates are so low it is not economical to do it – participate in the initiative that is!  So it remains only one of those methodologies remain with few takers. Even the CSIRO was showing how low these estimates are for the RMT. Reported is the government has taken a decision to use the lowest rates possible for landholders carbon sequestration from tree planting. A good source of this view is https://twitter.com/CountryCarbon/status/332655918254792706/photo/1 

They go on to say: ”In simple language the govt will only recognize extremely low carbon sequestration rates regardless of what happens on the land. It is not even the mid-point average. So that farmers would earn very few carbon offsets. Therefore they say, why bother? 

Most of the extension and outreach to date talks about tree planting or piggeries. (Piggeries are a different question). Most projects approved are all about landfill projects and they are town councils.” They also say: “It actually has less to do with government cut backs or Coalition vs Labor politics and more to do with implementation”. More than one providing input say it may be just a simple matter as readjusting the RMT tool.

CO2Land org intends to continue this thread of knowledge and asks: Unless you be fortunate enough to have a government program that is more generous behind you. 
Should we lobby government harder to be more encouraging for innovation in CFI?

Notwithstanding, CO2Land org wish everyone the best with their endeavours in the initiative. Applauded is the intention is well founded, the legislations well intended, and the potential well received – but something is missing! Maybe it is a case of it is too difficult to include farming in CFI and the outreach context for farmers is that the potential liabilities that could be incurred by landholders using some already approved methodologies are not properly explained and/or are dismissed as of a trivial nature. The great harm in this possibility is that the program reputation will be tainted – irrespective of its intention of fairness. Even recent Government decisions on department restructuring (especially the Department of the long name – too long to repeat) and budget constraints required by departments and the continued efficiency dividends to Treasury are not helpful to the pledge. What is hoped for by farming advocates and practitioners is a more direct show of continuous steps to perfection for the farming community and eliminating any direction that might be seen as a series of steps to dismantle or derail such a worthwhile cause from its name sake – the Carbon Farming Initiative.

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CFI – untangling the confusion.

While discussing how you go about untangling the confusion around land carbon science and climate change mitigation policy. The CFI group noticed that the Nature Publishing Group has published that wide held beliefs are “scientifically flawed”. It then became necessary to wonder about agenda and again you had to ask was it to further confuse and did it serve any real purpose in publishing the article other than it being a academic assessment – it appears another clue is the time difference from the receipt of the article to publishing was around 7 months.

To quote the abstract of this subscription service found under:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n6/full/nclimate1804.html

Depletion of ecosystem carbon stocks is a significant source of atmospheric CO2 and reducing land-based emissions and maintaining land carbon stocks contributes to climate change mitigation. We summarize current understanding about human perturbation of the global carbon cycle, examine three scientific issues and consider implications for the interpretation of international climate change policy decisions, concluding that considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (an idea with wide currency) is scientifically flawed. The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to store carbon is finite and the current sequestration potential primarily reflects depletion due to past land use. Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.

CO2Land org prefers an apolitical stance on what matters. However, it could not be helped that the views above may undermine our Australian values for the Carbon Farming Initiative. It may also be pertinent to put to the public that there is an immediate need to offset carbon from fossil fuels, that no measure in its self should be judged into eternity.  What this need does show is the measures should only be judged on its effects on the term a methodology may be useful. That is, does it matter, in terms of carbon offset, that it makes a difference for 10, 25 or up to 100 years. or eternity. That if you want to make a difference, and monetary gains are more a matter for survival levels as opposed to money venture gains it matters only that there is bi partisan political support for the concepts and actions.

The reference to “scientifically flawed” in the quoted article maybe a headline grabber but as the difference possible through land carbon policy is quantifiable. It is a genuine action and debate will only result in no action – and that is the tragic consequence.  We know science supports that view of the potential tragic consequence.

Good News for CFI

Good news for those following the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.  The bipartisan support in the Federal Parliament will continue for approved carbon storage – and that is also a key component of the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan. As such those committed under the CFI legislation as farmers, land owners and land managers are able to generate carbon credits by storing carbon on the land or reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a greater degree of confidence.

In a show of faith the Federal Government has awarded the tender to develop the learning materials for the new CFI skill sets. In a press release, 8 May 2013, Carbon Training International (CTI) – www.co2ti.com – has announced that they are the successful tenderer for supplying CFI skill set training materials.

Co2Land org is aware that persons CTI are interested in to participate in the industry reference groups and the pilot courses have been contacted to run the programs later in the 2013 year.  It follows that those that would be able to give good input would still be welcome to do so to the sessions.

Below is a copy of the press release distributed by CTI:

————————————————————————–

Press release – Carbon Training International wins tender for Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative Skill Set Training Materials Program.

The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) introduces a specific new set of job roles into the Australian workforce to assist the establishment of carbon abatement and sequestration projects linked to the land. This requires a new set of skills and knowledge that give the workforce confidence to complete their roles and land holders the confidence that the people whom they are contracting have reached an acceptable performance benchmark. CTI has been selected by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research & Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) following a competitive tender process to develop the training and learning materials to support the training of this important emerging workforce. “We were selected above other training development tenders in a very competitive field” said Bill McGhie CTI’s CFI Program Director.

The CFI is a legislated scheme which has bipartisan support in the Federal Parliament and is also a key component of the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan. Under the legislation farmers, land owners and land managers are able to generate carbon credits by storing carbon on the land or reducing greenhouse gas emissions from land based activities such as landfills & piggeries. These credits can then be sold to individuals or organisations who have committed to offset their emissions or to meet their liability under the carbon pricing mechanism.

The CFI skill set training focuses on building the knowledge and skills that carbon service providers need to assist farmers and land holders assess, evaluate, plan and implement complex CFI projects. The training is designed to enable individuals acting as CFI project advisors, originators or developers acquire or affirm the skills to supply reliable, credible and consistent technical information on CFI projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon in the landscape leading to carbon credits being issued.

Once produced the CFI Skill sets training products & course materials will be made available to universities, TAFE colleges and private training providers (RTOs) to deliver the CFI training and accredit people with the skills to support CFI projects.

“It is integral to the integrity and the credibility of the carbon service sector that those individuals with the knowledge, skills and experience for planning and implementing CFI projects support farmers and land managers on how to participate in the CFI effectively” said Carbon Training International’s MD, Robert Nicholls. “The establishment of accredited CFI training is an important development for the farming and land management community as it provides them with a means to easily select carbon service providers whose CFI knowledge and skills has been independently assessed and confirmed to be to a particular standard. It provides some peace of mind that the individuals undertaking project feasibility and CFI methodology selection for the deployment of carbon offset projects on behalf of landholders have the required skills.”

“The Clean Energy Regulator, which oversees the administration of the CFI is considering a register of accredited providers to provide more certainty of contractor capacity to make sure genuine service providers are differentiated from the cowboys.” said Carbon Training International’s CFI Program Director, Bill McGhie.

Accredited training will provide a firm footing for carbon offset projects to have a better chance of success and thereby generate important economic benefits to regional communities and indigenous Australians.

“The CFI offers an important opportunity to landholders, however the CFI projects need to be set up properly and that is why this training is essential” said Mr. McGhie.

Carbon Training International is the leading developer of accredited carbon management training and has already trained over 600 candidates in its Certificate IV in Carbon Management course. Its programs are taught in Australia, online and overseas through its international partner network, including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

  Regards

Bill McGhie
Director
Organisation Capacity Building & Training
Carbon Training International
GPO Box 3414
Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia
m: 0408 207 820
www.co2ti.com

build a carbon-responsive workforce

 

 

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!

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country. Most recently, floods hurt the Australian eastern states, and a matter of weeks before by devastating fires. This is focusing on the thought – Maybe climate change is closer than we think.

The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison, on Monday 4 February 2013, made a comparison of Australia facing another summer of floods, and that we are not alone. She centred her story on how Indonesia’s capital grappled with a watery chaos and Beijing being brought to a choking halt by smog. Her point being “Australia’s recent re-acquaintance with devastating flooding in Queensland and northern NSW this summer has been another sobering reminder of the climatic shape-shifting wreaking havoc with lives and livelihoods across the country. 

Yes, Dorothea Mackellar might well have written of droughts and flooding rains in the early 1900s (while homesick for Australia as a teenager in England), but you’d be hard-pressed to find much wistful fondness among the many farmers who have watched livestock, equipment and expanses of primary produce wash away their livelihoods for the second time in two years. 

For many of these much-heralded ‘country folk’, the financial and emotional struggle of staying on the land will be too much; they’ve said as much in shocked-filled resignation as the water came back too soon. 

Watching on, from the fire-prone drier states, the unspoken narrative is screaming; where will these people go? What will they do for a living? And who will grow the food they were growing for both domestic and export markets?”

In another irony, the current Queensland Government did not see anything other than a cost/benefit analysis being required to manage the environment. Because of the events the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is now considering the cost of the climatic events and it is hard to find a benefit calculation other than the need for a capital injection might have to come from public funds to mitigate the damage. One such project would be that some flood-prone residential areas in Queensland could be relocated “to avoid what looks increasingly like the recurring reality of extreme flooding”.

Another pair of ABC reporters, John Morrison & Kerrin Thomas, also on 4 Feb 2013 said New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, “says his visit to flood-affected regions on the North Coast has reminded him of his visit to Moree around the same time last year. 

Moree was flooded almost exactly one year ago, as floodwaters travelled downstream from Queensland. 

Barry O’Farrell told ABC’s Statewide Drive program the conditions in Grafton this year are very similar to those in Moree 12 months ago”. To paraphrase BOF’s (Premier Barry O’Farrell – we kid you not, it is a published acronym for his name) point is that the city dwellers think it is unusual and the country folk do not.  Too right mate it is bloody heart breaking for country folk, if you did not know!

The reality is what the city dweller is now able to see change, and the statement of BOF of “unusual” is losing credence as the numbers keep stacking up that something is wrong, and climate related events are becoming more extreme and records are being broken nudging the entire population to think again about climate change.

The point is made again: It is not just Australia that is affected, in Jakarta right now, where record flooding has swamped the CBD for the first time in history. As in Queensland (suggested by the Premier Campbell Newman) there is increasing talk that relocating the Indonesian capital is the only feasible solution to an escalating problem. The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison said, “Jakarta is sinking. Literally. Years and years of unregulated private water-bores has drained the city’s below-sea-level water table dry. The record rain, coupled with an underdeveloped drainage system and the penchant of Jakartans to use the city’s waterways as rubbish dumps, brought this city of 20-odd million to a standstill of a different kind…. Australians remember the massive economic and political impact when Brisbane flooded two year ago – the disruption and cost to business, the national flood levy, the daily Bligh/Newman media show, the rebuild…..The implications of a non-functioning Jakarta are immense and wide-ranging both for Indonesia and the region. But this is the reality…And while the Indonesian capital grappled with a watery chaos, further north a different kind of stultification was engulfing the Chinese capital. The soupy and toxic coal-fuelled smog that has descended across northern China sent monitoring devices off the scale in Beijing. 

Hospitals recorded a 30 per cent increase in admissions for respiratory-related illnesses and residents were ordered to stay indoors as state-run manufacturing was put on the kind of state-instructed ‘go-slow’ not seen since the Blue Sky policies of the Beijing Olympic preparations….There is something darkly delicious about China’s state-run manufacturing boom on a state-imposed go-slow because Beijing’s middle class, the beneficiaries of the boom, can’t breathe. It’s a vexing Catch-22 for China’s new leadership – how to keep a slowing economy buoyant but avoid a widespread public health crisis – and a new twist on boom or bust. Not to mention the regional economic implications for trading partners like Australia, whose coal-exporters might possibly be the elephant in the (Beijing hospital) room? 

It doesn’t seem that long ago that “environmental refugees” living on increasingly brackish low-lying Pacific island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu were dismissed as the political fodder of fear-mongering climate change campaigners. Now, sadly, relocations from what were once primary food-producing areas are a new way of life – and it’s not just Kiribatins and Tuvaluans feeling the watery heat. 

Widespread record flooding and deadly landslides have been a common theme across the Pacific this summer – PNG, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands have all battled extreme weather events from ferocious cyclones and record rains. A 

It used to be that a few thousand people with wet feet in the Pacific never got much traction outside environmental campaigner circles; perhaps this faraway time of a planet impacted by a changing climate might be closer than we think”. 

Tracey Hutchison broadcasts throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific for ABC News Radio and Radio Australia.

Bringing this closer to home in the story “Fitzroy River continues rising amid ‘sea of water’” by Paul Robinson, Monday February 4, 2013 –the story is of central Queensland and the city of Rockhampton where it two has been hit by severe floods in as many years of the Fitzroy reaching up to 9.2m. This height has the potential to cut off the city for as much as two weeks at a time. Flooding also closed the Airport. However the problem for the city is that much of the water coming in also came from further inland, which brings its own problems in terms of trade. And extensive damage to agriculture. 

Quoted is “We’ve seen loss of livestock, there’s tractors that have been washed out of sheds, four-wheelers that are a couple of hundred metres down the paddock, there’s a lot of irrigation gear and pump sheds that have just gone missing, tanks, like a lot of fodder, round bales, small bales and lucerne, all gone,” he said. 

”Tourism hit

A central Queensland tourism body says tourist operators can expect further hits to business as Rockhampton prepares for Saturday’s flood peak. 

Capricorn Enterprise says highways cut by floodwaters severely damage tourism”. Also affected is rail infrastructure and mining activities and it is reported that “rail company Aurizon says coal rail lines to Gladstone could be closed for more than a week…. An Aurizon spokeswoman says crews are still unable to fully assess the situation because the rail line is under water. However, she says at the moment they expect the Moura and Blackwater systems will reopen within seven to 10 days. 

Freight operations along the coast have also been interrupted by flooding of the Queensland Rail network”. 
We should also say roads are also cut or restricted for use at different points too.

CO2Land org thinks maybe BOF had it the wrong way around. Country folk are finding it unusual that 10, 50 and 100 years events are happening, seemingly every 2 years. It is city folk that are tending to think it is normal and even the assistance appeals are failing to reach the targets.  Is it too late, how can we adapt at this rate? What is the cost of taking the high ground!

the notion of “water flow uphill”

“They thought there was a communication problem, and that what he was saying (‘Getting the water to flow uphill for the plants’) should not be taken as a literal translation. Interesting that many of us armed with conventional wisdom, with sleeves rolled up and espousing there is only one view of the world. That is a world with a benign bias that is a result of their own ignorance, a bias shared by the establishment where they are happy to “Recognise traditional owners” but completely ignore 40,000 years of stable landscape management as being not scientifically based (due to their own biased view of what constitutes science).

Co2Land is not the author of what is written in the opening paragraph. However, on reflection it is very possible we are ignorant if not wrong for what we believe to be truth.  Truth, like real, prior, could be a synonym or even a proprietary product and still be wrong. We could be ignoring one of Einstein’s greatest tenants (the universe depends on the perspective of the observer).

Looking at the concept of a net movement of water away from drainage lines is possible when you research even at a basic level, like Wikipedia, or as follows as published by http://science.jrank.org/pages/1182/Capillary-Action.html#ixzz2JIvrD9qD:

“The force with which water is held by capillary action varies with the quantity of water being held. Water entering a natural void, such as a pore within the soil, forms a film on the surface of the material surrounding the pore. The adhesion of the water molecules nearest the solid material is greatest. As water is added to the pore, the thickness of the film increases, the capillary force is reduced in magnitude, and water molecules on the outer portion of the film may begin to flow under the influence of gravity. As more water enters the pore the capillary force is reduced to zero when the pore is saturated. The movement of groundwater through the soil zone is controlled, in part, by capillary action. The transport of fluids within plants is also an example of capillary action. As the plant releases water from its leaves, water is drawn upward from the roots to replace it”(Read more: Capillary Action – Liquid, Water, Force, and Surface – JRank Articles ).

This illustrates that science supports what the indigenous know in that water can back out across the slopes due to capillary action and in this way encouraging growth and interconnection of the soil “fungal mat”, and from the perspective of the observer in the drainage line moving the water ‘uphill’.  With a closed mind we might say ‘not possible’ – yet the Romans BC did it with viaducts and manipulating volume pressures to do so.  Should we have an open mind for these things? The answer appears to be it is beyond a cost benefit it is just a big yes.

If we relate this to the methodology process of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) a strong case can be made for inclusion, greater than savanna burning. As told to us we could see success and it opens up millions of hectares of bush to better management part funded by carbon credits generated.  The advocates of this method gave CO2Land org an example of what could happen in an area of 1000ha. Said was: “If patches are prescriptive burnt on a ten year rotation then this would yield 120 tonnes of soil carbon sequestered a year, and if we assume 360 Australian Carbon Credit Units (CFI credits) @23 dollars per tonne. An income boost of +$8000 a year is possible”. If accepted is it noted all of this is possible from this activity without wholesale alteration to the natural balance.

CO2Land org has previously postulated that $7,000 per annum is needed as an enticement for participation in complex methods so this possibility would be enough to offset the liabilities of land ownership (rates, weeds control, land use etc), and give additional benefits that include productivity improvements and/or other opportunities generated.

If you wish to be critical we accept that the bio char method is acceptable under National Resource Management program (NRM). However, out point is in order to incentivize a market for the concept the CFI and ACCU’s are a better way to go and could open up a multi product concept with the potential for the way forward for the sustainable environment and hopefully those faithful to carbon will no longer be in a blue state and that will be because they no longer will be only living in hope and will be able to participate in a reality. We will get a result.

 

 

the notion of “cool” patch burning

January 2013, has been very distracting and the extreme fire conditions have woken us from our usual persistence to stay in holiday mode a little longer. Traditionally it is a less than optimum time for putting forward ideas and getting anything done. Friends schooled in adult education training warned us NOT to try and run courses in January because people retain their school holiday mindset well into their senior years, and even if you can get them to turn up they will be distracted and inattentive.

Fire has been often characterized as the best servant and the worst master (you may have heard this expressed in many different ways). Last evening at a local rural firefighting service get together, as expected, the politics of fire was in the forefront of casual discussion. Yet, some very important debate happened of interest: We talked of fire management and the attitudes of each of us towards, and the implications for, landscape management.

Introduced into the discussion was how the government measured success of their many programs. We at this point input our interest to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology on savanna burning to a more focused area of controlled burning as was practiced by the indigenous in times past and the difference being in those traditional ways the management was to avoid total incineration and encourage regeneration and improve soil fertility.

In relation to the traditional burning practices cited, the various land managers, both government & private, agreed the need to stimulate considerable discussion was evident. Those that opposed said they were having some trouble accepting the notion of “cool” patch burning. They don’t like it because it leaves too much charcoal on the ground which they think will fuel the next fire, and the only answer is to ensure hotter more complete burns to reduce the fuel back to mineral ash. One even went so far as to say, ‘do you think the indigenous knew what they were doing, they had no intention of managing the landscape, fire was an accident that just got away from them and the benefits were accidental’. Our reply, does it matter that they planned the benefit, what matters was they learned something and have knowledge from the experience, and the issue must be effective communication is needed for a better understanding and to ensure that knowledge is not lost. To have the attitude that all that we need to do to manage the risk for the environment is indulge in recursive behavior is nonsense.

Saying there was a communication problem was the catalyst for a more rational response and the group was then more open to accept they needed to engage in more than polite conversation and to actually open themselves to the thought our indigenous colleagues deserve an audience for what they say is a solution to our degrading rural scape.

Further background material can be followed up as Posted on January 20, 2013 by co2land

CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments

Transistion to LLS – NSW

Some confusion exists of the changes in NSW, and how safeguarding agriculture will continue. The November 2012 issue of the Tablelands Landholder Newsletter features John Seaman the Chairman from the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA).  The central message is LHPA will continue to service agriculture stakeholders until LHPA, Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) and some of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) responsible units are amalgamated into the new body in NSW called Local Land Services (LLS). The complete handover to LLS is expected to be January 2014.

CO2Land org is compelled to help clarify what is happening in the transition after we broke a story Major shake-up for DPI: Posted on October 10, 2012 by co2land. In that post as quoted “It is goodbye to Catchment Management and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities. They are to be eliminated in a major shake-up in the provision of agricultural and catchment management services in NSW. This means a Major shake-up for the Department of Primary Industries. It is understood the new structure would be responsible for:  Agricultural advice, plant and animal pest control and biosecurity, natural resource management; and, emergency and disaster assessment and response.

The Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson was quoted as saying “agricultural advisory services provided by Agriculture NSW (part of the Department of Primary Industries) would also be incorporated in a single new body, Local Land Services”.

The theme of the transition is ‘let’s work together’ and it is said that ‘business as usual’ will continue in terms of maintaining commitment to the landholders.

On the theme of lets work together highlighted is:

  • Reduce Rural Crime, and unfortunately opportunist crime is common and organized crime continues. Good neighbours is as important as is effective policing and it could be time for a sensible Christmas present suggestion – motion sensing cameras around and at the entrance of the property.  Maybe everything that goes moo though the night might be a real mover?
  • Fox control has resulted in a 10-15% lamb marking increase – serious effort required to continue with eliminating this introduced pest.
  • It is a legal requirement for all landholders in NSW to control declared pest animals. Wild Rabbits are part of that requirement.
  • From 1 September 2012, in NSW, anyone who keeps livestock will be required to have a Property Identification Code (PIC). This code is for the parcel of land in which the livestock are kept. You should be aware this requirement says the land parcel owns the Livestock and the carer (Landholder/Manager) needs permission to move the livestock to other areas or parcels of land. You should also be aware that the previous requirement for the PIC has been expanded to deer, bison, buffalo, alpacas, llama, donkeys, and horses, keeping more than 100 poultry, more than 10 emu or ostriches in addition to cattle, sheep, goats and pigs need to have a PIC number.

Looking at the model of Local Land Services you might notice the emphasis is on a better relationship for regional areas, and making it less prescriptive in dealing with the landholders. While it is welcome that the work of community-based natural resource management organisations like Landcare NSW and Greening Australia will be more closely attuned to the administration it remains to be seen if harmony will prevail over funding distributions and cooperation with other co-funded organisations including the Rural Research and Development Corporations. That said, both federal and state bodies are on record as being supportive of volunteers that work in the communities and in return they can receive stewardship payments to offset some of the program costs.

It follows that most landholders are part of a community group and would be happy if the benefits of the changes included biodiversity reintroduction, carbon sequestration and salinity and erosion control. And, little or no additional cost being levied on landholders to achieve the benefit.

Co2Land org  encourages any question to be directed to admin.tablelands@lhpa.org.au

Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund discussion paper

What is a position paper when it does not necessarily represent the views of the Government or any Government Minister – It could be a discussion paper and one very recent issue on the CFI related discussion is a position paper prepared by the Land Division of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to promote discussion ahead of developing program guidelines for the Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund. The paper titled Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund Discussion paper for public comment – November 2012.

If you are wondering what does it mean, firstly you need to understand that the Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund is about abatement activities that do not count towards Australia’s emissions targets. It is about a market based incentive for CFI credits that do not have access to other markets. Equally important the Fund will not duplicate other grant-based or research and development funding provided under the Clean Energy Future Plan.

So why do it?  To encourage investment and promote innovation all related to reducing emissions or store carbon and would not have been contributing in other ways to Australia’s emissions targets. A big part of this objective is the ‘learning by doing’.

Looking closer at the Carbon Farming Initiative it is a legislated framework to ensure that abatement is real, permanent and additional. If you want to investigate what is thought of this statement you can read CO2Land orgs post  Real, Additionality, RECs

Posted on August 14, 2012 by co2land “Curiosity lead to checking out the reporting standard AS/NZS ISO 14064, finding it is silent on the word or term ‘real’ and completely avoids the topic of additionality, was fascinating given that you can’t even conceive of an offset without the concept of additionality!

CO2Land org now ponders: If ‘real’ cannot be a guarantee of a good project outcome. It follows that the use of the word or term ‘real’ can be seen as a initial or promised activity increase and not be seen as a guarantee of an increase in the carbon offset (it could be real activity and still lead to a decrease of carbon offsets). So if I say it was real at the time I acted; it was an act in good faith only. The issue with the word ‘real’ is it literally means the activity is a cause of change.

This lead to thinking of the impact this has on the Carbon Farming Initiative as legislated when the Gold Standard and Carbon Fix require that projects be “real”, but no international standard could explain what they mean by using the terms.

CO2Land org looked a little harder (we don’t want this post to be no more than ‘hot air’) and found:

◦    Specifically ISO 14064-2 (project accounting) does not include ‘Real’ because during development of ISO 14064-2 ‘Real’ was regarded as a programmatic rule/criteria, which is outside the scope of ISO 14064-2.

◦    ISO 14064-2 is a standard rather than a program

◦    ISO 14064-2 (Clause 5.4) specifies the following requirement in regards to additionality: “The project proponent shall select or establish, justify and apply criteria and procedures for demonstrating that the project results in GHG emissions reductions or removal enhancements that are additional to what would occur in the baseline scenario.”

◦    Additionality is incorporated into ISO 14064-2 is based on the core principles of ISO standards in general, i.e. that ISO standards not be a barrier to trade (WTO-TBT – anyone following development of ISO 14067 (product) will know this is a major issue). As such, ISO standards must be policy-neutral (extended to include program-neutrality). This is of course very important for market confidence.

◦    ISO 14064 deals with the concept of additionality by requiring that the GHG project has resulted in GHG emission reductions or removal enhancements in addition to what would have happened in the absence of that project. It does not use the term “additionality”…Thus the project proponent may apply additionality criteria and procedures, or define and use boundaries consistent with relevant legislation, policy, GHG programmes and good practice.”

◦    Although the concept/requirement of additionality is within the requirements of ISO 14064-2, the simple reason why the ‘term’ additionality is not present within the requirements of ISO 14064-2 is because of certain sensitivities/perceptions/politics of certain parties involved in the development of the standard. ”

If we press on with the currect discussion paper: You should be aware the Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund will only purchase credits issued under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and the department states the rigorous CFI integrity standards apply to both Kyoto and non-Kyoto projects.

To quote the Department: “The CFI is based on internationally accepted principles for ensuring that abatement is real, permanent and additional; and incorporates safeguards against adverse impacts — for example on biodiversity, water availability and employment. It allows landholders to generate carbon credits for abatement actions, whether or not they contribute to Australia’s emissions targets. All abatement — including Kyoto and non-Kyoto abatement — is subject to rigorous integrity standards, which cover:

  • Measurement:  each CFI project must use an approved CFI methodology to ensure that abatement is measurable and verifiable. CFI methodologies are supported by peer reviewed science and assessed by an independent expert committee (the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee).
  • Additionality:  abatement must go beyond legal requirements and common practice within a comparable industry and/or region.
  • Leakage:  measurement methods must account for leakage and variability and use conservative assumptions.
  • Permanence:  sequestration from establishing trees or building soil carbon must be permanent.

The CFI is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator. It is supported by legislation and includes measures to minimise fraud and dishonest conduct. The CFI framework gives buyers confidence that offsets make a genuine contribution to climate change mitigation. “

Co2land org does not intent to verbatim the paper and you can easily get a download of  the discussion paper at:  http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/carbon-farming-initiative-non-kyoto.aspx .

But if you prefer we can explain what is Kyoto versus non-Kyoto activities. Kyoto protocol was ratified by Australia in 2007 and we agreed to to limit our national emissions in the period 2008-2012 (the first commitment period) and the Government has recently announced its intention to join a second commitment period, consistent with our domestic commitment to reduce emissions by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020.

The Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund promotes land sector abatement that does not contribute to Australia’s internationally committed emissions targets, but represents genuine abatement nonetheless. Some non-Kyoto activities are likely to transition into the Kyoto framework (or its successor) over time.

The Kyoto Protocol establishes an internationally-agreed framework for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007, agreeing Land sector activities that contribute to Australia’s Kyoto Protocol emissions target (Kyoto activities) include:

  • activities that reduce agricultural emissions;
  • reforestation (land that was clear of forest before 1990); and
  • avoided deforestation (those present in 1990).

Under a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period (from 2013), it will be mandatory to account for forest management.

Rules:

* The carbon pricing mechanism allows CFI credits from Kyoto activities can be used as offsets.

* You can use the CFI to credit abatement from activities that do not currently contribute to Australia’s Kyoto Protocol emissions target (non-Kyoto activities).

* Credits generated from non-Kyoto activities will be eligible under the Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund, but cannot be used as offsets under the carbon pricing mechanism.

Transitioning activities into the Kyoto framework

  • International climate change negotiations are ongoing. What we have the moment is an intention to join a second commitment period.
  • Forest management and other voluntary land sector activities were not followed in the first commitment period because of risk. Risks that the gains from carbon sequestration could become losses from natural events, such as bushfire and drought. New provisions allow countries to exclude emissions from major natural disturbances when accounting for forest management and reforestation.
  • Accounting for forest management will become mandatory for parties under a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period.
  • Other land sector activities — including the storage of carbon in agricultural soils, grazing land management and the restoration of wetlands — will remain voluntary. Or at least until the Government assesses the impacts in Australia’s national accounts.
    • If activities enter the national accounts, credits from those activities would become allowable offsets under the carbon pricing mechanism and would no longer be eligible under the Non‑Kyoto Carbon Fund.
    • Fence sitters will be delighted. There will be arrangements to help stakeholders to manage uncertainty around the timing of any transition.

What happens if non-kyoto activities are brought into the Kyoto framework? The proposal is :  A voluntary opt-out clause would allow Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund participants to choose to sell to other buyers, if activities become eligible offsets under the carbon pricing mechanism.

What happens from here?  “The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency will continue to consult with stakeholders on the design of the Non-Kyoto Carbon Fund. Interested parties are encouraged to make submissions on the proposals outlined in this discussion paper.

Draft program guidelines will be published in the first half of 2013, for further stakeholder comment. This will be followed by the release of final program guidelines prior to program commencement.”

In the mean time, if you are an interested stakeholder – Submissions are accepted until 14 Dec 2012 from stakeholders. Follow the full discussion and make your comments as described and email to cfi@climatechange.gov.au .

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.