Greatest of expectations

Farmers 'need to take advantage of carbon market'


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Scientists, companies and most governments agree something must be done rapidly about climate change, and Australian farmers are at the coalfront to initiate action.

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AS SNOW fell in the Orange region, areas around Kempsey were threatened by bushfire.

The two regions are not more than seven hours apart by road.

As the crow flies it's a lot less.

The affects of climate change are now accepted by about 97 per cent of scientists, which is extraordinary accord in the scientific community.

There have been massive heatwaves in India this year, with temperatures of more than 50 degrees Celsius recorded, scientists have recorded expansion of the Sahara desert and there are heatwave records in France and the United Kingdom.

In July, the heat crept across Scandanavia and the Arctic.

The Greenland ice sheet lost 194 billion tonnes of ice as a result, unprecedented in our small recorded history.

There have been wildfires in Alaska and Siberia, and smoke is blanketing 300 Russian cities, which is now drifting across the Bering Sea, into Canada.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last week said we must change our land management systems as a matter of urgency.

"When land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil's ability to absorb carbon," the IPCC report said.

"This exacerbates climate change, while climate change in turn exacerbates land degradation in many different ways," the report said.

"The choices we make about sustainable land management can help reduce and in some cases reverse these adverse impacts," said Kiyoto Tanabe, co-chair of the task force on national greenhouse gas inventories.

At the same time as the report was released, almost 400 people met in Albury over four days to discuss how to sink more carbon into the soil of their farms.

They were told by farmers already recording increased carbon levels that fertiliser costs had shrunk and water retention capability had surged.

Farmers had better pull on their superhero costumes to meet society's expectations, says Carbon Credit Solutions founder Alastair Handley.

Farmers had better pull on their superhero costumes to meet society's expectations, says Carbon Credit Solutions founder Alastair Handley.

"The problem with climate change is that it's existential, it's too easy for people to shut down and say it's too hard," Carbon Market Institute general manager Brad Kerin told the Carbon Farmers of Australia ninth conference.

The CMI believes market-based solutions are the most efficient policy to address climate change.

"We must improve action on climate change, we must be more ambitious, we're on a path to lower emissions and in the long term the whole economy is going to shift. The market must be used as a tool to bring government and non-government actions together."

Carbon Credit Solutions founder and president Alastair Handley said he was upset about society's expectations of farmers.

"Consider your average farmer, they've got 40 to 45 seasons to put the kids through school, save for retirement and be the solution for climate change, despite allegedly being the problem, and along the way feed nine billion people.

Consider your average farmer, they've got 40 to 45 seasons to put the kids through school, save for retirement and be the solution for climate change, despite allegedly being the problem, and along the way feed nine billion people. - Alastair Handley

"You'd better pull on your superhero costumes," Mr Handley told the conference.

Cathy Waters from NSW Department of Primary Industries said it was time farmers capitalised on the economic benefits and income diversification carbon farming now presented.

She said carbon farming could also enhance agriculture's social licence and the co-benefit opportunities of increased production stacked up economically.

The CMI's Mr Kerin told the conference the market for carbon offsets would only grow and the prices paid would increase.

"We're at $14 to $15 now.

"The aviation industry must be carbon neutral by 2020 and is looking to buy millions of tonnes of abatement.

"Airlines don't have a substitute, considering their main cost is burning fuel," he said. Australia had an huge opportunity before it and had to create an availability of Australian Carbon Credit Units, he said.

As an indicator the private market is supporting the push to address climate change, on Wednesday last week the Commonwealth Bank said would make $15 billion of funding available to low carbon projects by 2025.

Mr Kerin said companies were now looking at five, to 10, to 15-year climate risk-management strategies.

He said Australia's state governments and cities were taking the lead over the federal government, with many setting zero emissions targets by 2050 and were looking for projects to help them achieve that.

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