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Fatcow answers FAQ about the Carbon Farming Initiative (FIA)

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article image Under the Carbon Farming Initiative reforestation projects can earn valuable carbon credits
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Fatcow answers questions about the Carbon Farming Initiative that came into force in December 2011.  

Q. What is the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI)?  
The initiative is a scheme that benefits farmers and agriculturists, individuals, large companies and Australia as a whole.  It is a carbon offset scheme that rewards farmers and land managers for eco-friendly practices, that genuinely offset carbon emissions, with credits that can be sold to individuals and companies.  

Q. Is the scheme mandatory?
No. farmers, forest growers and land managers can opt to take part in the CFI scheme    

Q. What is a carbon credit?
Each carbon credit represents an actual reduction in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  This can be achieved by:

Q. Who can purchase the CFI credits? 
The carbon offset credits can be sold to companies and individuals with obligations under the carbon price.  The carbon price comes into action on 1st July 2012 and obligations will apply to about 500 of the biggest polluters in a bid to encourage more efficient operation, reduced pollution and investment in clean technology.  

Q. How do I take part in the CFI?
Farmers who wish to partake in the scheme must fill in application forms that can be found, along with details of the scheme, on the Carbon Farming Initiative Administrator website.       

Q. How will carbon credits be assigned?
Once details of projects and methodologies have been received, they will then be assessed by an independent expert committee, the Domestic Offsets integrity Committee, which will ensure that the resulting reduction in emissions/increase in carbon is in fact real and quantifiable.    Credits are awarded once the reduction in emissions has actually occurred.  

Q. What agricultural activities earn for carbon credits under the CFI scheme?
There are four criteria to fulfil in order for an activity to be rewarded with carbon credits:

  • be within the scope of the CFI
  • involve an approved CFI methodology
  • be included in the positive list
  • not be found on the negative list  

Complete details of these lists can be found on the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website.  

Q. What is the scope of the CFI?
There are four main project types that fall within the scope of the CFI - projects that:

  • avoid emissions of methane or nitrous oxide through agricultural activity such as livestock, burning and planting
  • avoid harmful gases released by landfill operations
  • avoid the release of methane or nitrous oxide from introduced animal’s waste and digestive tracts
  • remove carbon dioxide form the atmosphere through sequestration  

Q. What methodology is approved?
Once submitted methodology is assessed on an individual means by an independent expert body.  Methodologies for the following work streams are currently being assessed:

  • landfill gas recovery
  • management of methane from livestock
  • manure management
  • reforestation, forest management and native forest protection
  • savanna fire management
  • soil carbon and biochar

Q. What is the positive list?
The list will be continuously defined and updated, in line with proposals, new technology and industry practice.  It is a list of activities, which may be legally defined activities, that go beyond common practice to genuinely offset emissions.  

Anyone can propose activites to add to the positive list by submitting a Positive List Proposal Form, which will then be individually assessed for inclusion.  Once activities have had sufficient uptake to be defined as common practice they will be removed from the positive list.  

Q. What is the negative list?
The negative list defines a set of activities that will be excluded when circumstances where it will have a negative impact on any one or more of the following:

  • availability of water
  • conservation of biodiversity 
  • employment 
  • local community
  • land access for agricultural production

The list is designed to control risks that are not addressed via regulations and planning regimes.  It uses the CFI rainfall map and salinity guidelines as reference materials.  A Negative List Proposal form can be submitted to request that negative activities are added, removed or modified. 

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