The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is the Australian Government’s plan for a clean energy future that will help improve the profitability and sustainability of agricultural industries. It is a carbon offsets scheme that will provide new economic opportunities for farmers, forest growers and land managers.
As of 8 December 2011, Farmers and land managers will be able to generate credits that can be sold to other businesses wanting to offset their own carbon pollution.
Agriculture and forestry currently account for about 23 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the land is important, especially towards Australia’s long-term reduction goal of at least 80 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050.
Over $1.7 billion of carbon revenues raised from the top polluting companies in Australia will be invested in the land sector in the next six years.
Through the CFI, Australian farmers and land managers will have access to the carbon market and be able to generate revenue by reducing emissions or increasing carbon storage on their land.
The CFI will also create incentives for farmers and land managers to adopt new and innovative farm practices that can reduce emissions from agriculture and increase carbon storage in soils and vegetation, while improving efficiency and productivity of their business.
Carbon credits are representations of the reductions in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which can be achieved through:
- Increasing the amount of carbon stored in soil or trees, for example by growing a forest or reducing tillage on a farm in a way that increases soil carbon
- Reducing or avoiding emissions, for example through the capture and destruction of methane emissions from landfill or livestock manure.
The generated carbon credits are recognised for Australia’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change can be sold to companies with liabilities under the carbon price.
These credits can be earned from a range of CFI activities and projects, which can include:
- Reducing the frequency and severity of savannah fires by carrying out controlled burning earlier in the dry season.
- Manure management could enable farmers to reduce emissions from intensive livestock, such as piggeries.
- Reduce the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used in crop production.
- Reduce methane emissions from animals through optimising cattle breeding and stocking rates, faster turn-off sale of cattle and improvements to diet quality in beef and diary systems.
- Changes in landfill gas managements in which landfill gas can be captured and be used to produce electricity.
- Revegetation along waterways to help improve water quality and biodiversity benefits.
- Reforestation of trees into agricultural systems to protect soils, prevent erosion, provide biodiversity habitat and as well as protecting livestock from wind and heat.
The ongoing CFI non-Kyoto Carbon Fund will help provide incentives for other activities including revegetation and soil carbon projects.
Australia is dedicated in continuing its work in developing new international rules that recognise a wider range of action on the land to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Carbon Farming Initiative is now in operation in Australia as of 8 December 2011.
For more information on the Carbon Farming Initiative, visit the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s website.