The Carbon Market Institute’s (CMI) 8th Carbon Farming Industry Forum has concluded in Cairns after two full days of robust discussions featuring actors from across the carbon value chain. The Forum provided an important opportunity for key stakeholders from both the supply and demand sides of the carbon market to come together and progress key actions in the Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap.

Concluding the Forum, CMI CEO John Connor said “It’s been a productive week as we gathered with over 300 delegates to reflect on a busy 12 months, but also look ahead as we continue to mobilise finance and assist due diligence decisions, while building on the integrity and transparency of Australia’s more-than-a decade-old carbon crediting framework.”

“As many speakers, including Former Treasurer Ken Henry reinforced, the land and agricultural sector is already a major contributor to Australia’s emission reductions to date, and will be called on to do more, ultimately about eight times what we do now.”

“This has the opportunity to deliver enduring, environmental, cultural, economic and social benefits to regions and communities, but it needs to be done right. Right by local communities, right by First Nations peoples, right by nature and right by investors and the broader public,” he said.

Highlights from the two-day event program are below.

Day One

  • Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen used a keynote address in the opening plenary session to showcase what the new expression of interest process for methodology development will look like in the Australian Carbon Credit Unit Scheme. The EOI process will have an additional level of triage to fast-track specific methods. Triage criteria include:
    • Scale of abatement potential
    • Likely uptake by carbon project proponents
    • Complexity of method proposed
    • Potential social, economic, environmental and cultural (First Nations) impacts
    • Degree of innovation

“The ACCU Scheme plays a critical role in delivering emissions reduction and supporting Australia’s climate ambitions. We need to make sure it continues to have strong integrity: that’s what we aim to achieve with these reforms.” – Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy

  • Department and Agency heads from the Australian Federal Government provided a pulse-check on the progress of implementation of climate policy reforms, as well as looming sectoral decarbonisation plans. Speakers noted the need to continue supporting a holistic approach to decarbonisation, including using high-quality environmental projects as a key tool to account for residual emissions.

“There’s too much CO2 in the air, and the only technology we have at the moment to remove it is growing stuff. New technologies will come, but until then we’ve got to do what works.” – David Parker, Chair & CEO, Clean Energy Regulator

“It’s going to be very difficult for some sectors to get to zero. There will be a need for offsets to balance those emissions up to 2050, so it’s important that we make sure those offsets have high integrity.” – Kate Lea Perry, Acting Branch Head, Carbon Crediting Branch – Emissions Reduction Brach, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

  • In a Carbon Conversation with CMI CEO John Connor, the recently appointed, inaugural full-time chair of Australia’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC) Professor Karen Hussey, delved into details on implementing this key recommendation of the ACCU Review. Professor Hussey emphasised the enhanced role of the ERAC as an important evolution in the architecture of the ACCU Scheme., noting that the ACCU Scheme is ultimately grounded in science, but also in the Offset Integrity Standards.

“It’s an internationally recognised scheme and is built on science, as many public policy interventions are. We need to give these projects time to deliver the goods. But on that journey, we need to be as open and honest as we can.” – Professor Karen Hussey, Chair, Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee

  • A concurrent workshop stream that considered integrity characteristics from private sector, investment and government perspectives highlighted a common perspective that regulatory certainty and national alignment was critical in order to increase investor confidence and market liquidity.

“Collectively as an industry, we are yet to secure full public confidence. And so… we need to go through our processes, we need to maintain them, and we need to have a very strong view around building them for confidence in the public marketplace.” – Carl Binning, Executive General Manager, Clean Energy Regulator

“We are here in the carbon market as a trader, but also as an investor. We have millions of dollars to invest in decarbonisation solutions, and we’re looking for regulatory certainty for projects.” – Cheryl Bowler, Head of Carbon Origination & Sales, Asia Pacific, Vertree

“States can do what we can’t; they are more nimble, potentially more innovative they can do things on the ground that we can’t. We are very committed to breaking down siloes and making sure we are all on the same page.”– Megan Surawski, Manager, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

  • An Indigenous-led panel showcased challenges faced by First Nations People across Australia and the Pacific. Discussions reflected an undeniable opportunity for First Nations people to be at the forefront of nature and history repair, but only if the government frameworks are provided for First Nations People to be shareholders, not just stakeholders.

“Our ancestors brought us here together to reawaken a future for ourselves.” – Suzanne Thompson, Director YACHTADAC / ICIN, First Nations Member, Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee

“Even though we’re here for the carbon industry, what we’re talking about is a much bigger issue. We’re talking about the health of the globe, and the state of the planet for our grandchildren to come.” – Dr. Akainisi Kedrayate, Chair, Fiji First Nations Resources Foundation

“The Government was very effective in removing our People from Country, and now we have to flip the script and create opportunities for our People to return to Country.” – Cassandra Stevens, PBC Coordinator & Director, Kullilli Bulloo River Aboriginal Corporation PBC

“We don’t want to be FIFO Traditional Owners. We want to be able to live on our Country and participate in our Country. These are core benefits of these projects for us.” – Tyronne Garstone, CEO, Kimberley Land Council

“A lot of these carbon projects can fund and can benefit these communities to the point that they are able to look after themselves. But it’s about how these strategies are rolled out, how these deals are made, and how much of the money actually flows back to the community.” – Richard Hoolihan, Director, North Queensland Land Council

“People want a life, not rent. It’s about an agreement beyond a percentage of revenue that might be achievable through these opportunities.” – Melissa Sinclair, General Manager, APN Cape York

  • Afternoon sessions focused on supporting decarbonisation in the agricultural and land sectors, with perspectives brought forward from land managers and stewards, as well as public servants and researchers collaborating on sectoral decarbonisation plans. Australia’s agriculture sector is willing to reduce emissions and enhance productivity, but key barriers in education and finance remain.

“There is no silver bullet. We all understand that. There is not going to be a widget, a technology, a method that will reduce our emissions to where we need to.” – Richard Heath, CEO, Zero Net Emissions from Agriculture CRC

“Farms are part of the economy. They’re not separate entities in the bush somewhere and we don’t have to worry about it. All these problems are interrelated and they’re very complicated.” – Peter Holding, Community Outreach Officer, Farmers for Climate Action

“The greatest opportunity [in the carbon industry] is for uptake and adoption by my peers, our land carers and landowners. Simplifying the language so that adoption can happen.” – Carly Burnham, Finance Manager & Director, Bonnie Doone Beef

Day Two

  • Day two opened with an update on the Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan, and the government’s climate change policy priorities for the agriculture sector. Minister Murray Watt said that there needs to be an emphasis on knowledge-sharing in order to give farmers the tools required to increase engagement in carbon farming.

“It’s no secret that climate change is costing our farmers every single day, and I know that carbon markets have an important role to play in supporting the net zero transition.”

“Farmers have told us they are up for change, but they want to know what they need to do and where they can get the information to do it,” – Hon. Murray Watt, Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry

  • There was also an update on the Government’s introduction of a Nature Repair Market, which is expected to have the first method launch under it in early 2025. A morning keynote from Chair of the Australian Climate and Biodiversity Foundation Dr. Ken Henry highlighted the need to scale nature positive investments as part of corporate investment strategies in the ACCU Scheme.

“The more successful strategies will be those that are seen to have the most beneficial economic impacts. And these will have to involve the use of tradable credits for both carbon and nature.”

“It seems likely that in the net-zero Australian economy of the future, five of the six sectors covered by the decarbonisation plans presently being developed will be net-emitters. If that is the case, then the sixth sector – agriculture and land, including forestry – must be a carbon sink. And I think it will have to be a large carbon sink.”

“Market instruments should be designed to change human behaviour. Thus, in assessing carbon abatement and nature positive claims, it doesn’t make sense to exclude changes to land management practices that avoid emissions. It is, of course, essential that we remove carbon from the atmosphere and repair degraded landscapes. But it is equally important to give humans, especially landholders, a reason to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere and to stop destroying even more of our limited stores of natural capital.” – Dr. Ken Henry, Australian Climate and Biodiversity Foundation

  • The role of government in supporting the establishment of a nature repair market framework was made clear by multiple speakers who noted the important role of government in reducing investment risk. While discussions touched on the similarities between carbon and nature markets, they also highlighted the fundamental differences that prevent a simple translation of frameworks.

“Where the market won’t take risks, that’s where the government needs to step in. Particularly as a cornerstone or a first-time investor, because the government removes the risk.” – Heather Campbell, CEO, Greening Australia

“We are only seeing growth in the carbon market because it has moved from voluntary to compliance, so we need to get serious about setting some nature disclosure rules in Australia, if we want this [nature repair] market to be ready with demand for investment.” – Jennifer Barwick, National Climate and Nature Coordinator, The Pew Charitable Trust

“Environmental markets are often introduced as incomplete markets. This basically means that they’re underpinned by government money… Improved biodiversity is a public good, much like reducing climate change impacts is a public good. The benefits are intergenerational.” – Felicity Deane, Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology

  • Afternoon sessions highlighted the community benefits that can be derived from well-executed carbon projects. These include social, cultural and economic benefits for both regional communities and for First Nations Traditional Owners and participants.

“Often times we forget to factor in what regional or remote communities value. How do we make sure that when we go out to that community and we not only achieve that project’s intention, but also ensure that there’s a secondary benefit for those regional or remote communities” – Samuel Dawes, Director – Integrity & Compliance, Carbon Market Institute

“As a partner, it wasn’t all about the money. It was about the support: supporting each other and understanding each other.” – Brian Singleton, Land Manager, Cairns Airport on the joint mangrove protection project between Cairns Airport and the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation

“The more the market scales up, the more we have the responsibility to make sure the footprint is positive. Nature positive and community positive.” – Professor Karen Hussey, Chair, Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC)


Forum Media Releases

Carbon Farming scorecard shows positive steps for transparency, integrity and governance

Bowen takes key step to expand carbon credit scheme

ACCU scheme must “let the sunshine in”, but not lose momentum, watchdog says

Carbon farming can deliver major benefits for First Nations peoples if settings are right

Net zero economy will rest on strong ACCU scheme, Ken Henry says

Farmers ready for carbon challenge, but greater clarity required


About the Forum

The Carbon Farming Industry Forum took place in-person at the Shangri-la The Marina in Cairns presented as a two-day conference preceded by a day of carbon project site visits, from May 20-22 in Cairns. The Forum Program included interactive plenaries, workshops and networking spread across two days, Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd May 2023.

Under the umbrella theme of “Connecting Country, Community & Climate”, the 2024 Forum will focus on the following key themes providing a framework for discussions:

  • Carbon Farming Market Developments, Optimising Policy Frameworks & Market Design
  • Agricultural & Land Sector Decarbonisation
  • The Nature & Climate Nexus
  • Communicating Benefits & Building Capacity

The Forum is a national event convening the major stakeholders across the land-sector carbon credit supply chain to reflect on industry progress against the Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap.

About the Carbon Market Institute

The Carbon Market Institute (CMI) is a member-based institute accelerating the transition towards a negative emissions, nature positive world. It champions best practice in carbon markets and climate policy, and its around 150 members include primary producers, carbon project developers, Indigenous organisations, legal, technology and advisory services, insurers, banks, investors, corporate entities and emission intensive industries. The positions put forward constitute CMI’s independent view and do not purport to represent any CMI individual, member company, or industry sector.

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