A national forum on carbon farming has discussed the future for soil carbon today, as the federal government announced it was a major priority under the new Technology Investment Roadmap.
Grant King, a member of the government’s advisory council on the Roadmap, told today’s Carbon Farming Industry Forum that selecting priority technologies ‘wasn’t a popularity contest’.
Soil carbon was selected because it offered a ‘really big pay-off’ in terms of potential. ‘That was the biggest bang for the buck’ among options for landscape sequestration, King told the virtual forum of 270 people.
King said biosequestration (storing carbon in vegetation and soils) ‘offers up a major new industry’ for Australia. ‘We should be ambitious enough to envisage a sequestration industry in Australia that in a sense over-sequesters,’ King said, referring to the potential for the industry to store global emissions.
King said developing new methodologies in carbon farming had been ‘slow and cumbersome’. ‘It’s been a real bugbear in the industry,’ he said. King said Minister for Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor’s recent announcement that the government would accelerate the development of methodologies would assist with, and democratise, that process.
Minister Taylor will address the final day of the forum tomorrow (event open to media).
The Carbon Farming Industry Forum is hosted by the Carbon Market Institute. CEO John Connor said the Roadmap’s commitment to soil carbon was welcome, but there was a key role for the broader carbon farming sector to play too. (Carbon farming involves storing more carbon in vegetation and the land; soil carbon is one element of this.) ‘Governments are beginning to take carbon farming more seriously but it’s time to turbocharge policy and investment,’ Connor said. ‘This is now an established industry but it could play a much larger role in Australia’s approach to climate change.’
Also speaking at the forum, Anna Skarbek, CEO of ClimateWorks, said Australia could achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but ‘we’ve really got to put the foot on the pedal in all sectors this decade’. Skarbek said the carbon farming industry needed to double or triple in size by 2030 to help meet the target.
David Parker, chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, said September’s auction of carbon credits showed ‘carbon markets have been very resilient through this wretched pandemic period. Markets have become a lot more active this year, there’s a big step-up.’ The CER will take over and accelerate the development of carbon farming methodologies, and Parker announced a steering committee would be formed to oversee this, including CMI’s Connor. Parker said the CER wanted to move quickly on methodologies, but the industry would have to move quickly too, because methodologies would be co-designed with industry.
Cathy Alexander 0448 708 991
Clare Price 0490 252 743 Clare.Price@carbonmarketinstitute.org
The Carbon Market Institute is the independent industry association for business leading the transition to a net-zero emissions. CMI has more than 85 corporate members.