AUSTRALIAN State and Federal governments offer a range of assistance and incentive programs to the agricultural sector.
These programs involve the provision of tax incentives, cash grants or concessional loans to successful applicants.
They commonly target projects in the areas of collaboration, business improvement, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency, and technical research and development.
During the coming months in The Grit, a spotlight will be focused on programs of potential interest to graziers in the BBB.
In this issue, the spotlight is on CARBON FARMING.
What is carbon farming?
CARBON farming projects generate income for landholders through changes in land management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or store carbon in soil and vegetation.
The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), is a government-run offsets program that allows landholders to implement carbon storage or emissions abatement activities to generate, and sell, carbon credits.
These carbon credits are called Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) each representing one tonne of stored carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) or avoided emissions through approved management activities and methodologies.
Eligible activities that landholders can undertake to produce carbon credits include:
- changes to livestock management;
- protecting native vegetation at risk of clearing;
- regeneration or reforestation of native vegetation; and
- improving soil carbon.
Many of the techniques used in carbon farming are consistent with best practice management approaches for sustainable agriculture. They can also lead to improved farm efficiencies and profitability.
Emissions Reduction Fund
THE Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) was introduced by the Federal Government in 2014 as part of the Direct Action Plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
The ERF is a voluntary scheme that aims to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by providing incentives for a range of organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their emissions.
ERF projects must be conducted according to an approved method and a number of activities are eligible under the scheme.
Those taking part may be able to earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), with one ACCU earned for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) stored or avoided.
ACCUs may be sold to generate additional income, either to the Government through a Carbon Abatement Contract or on the secondary carbon market.
Quick Q and A
Q: Do I have to include all my land in the project?
A: No. You get to determine how much eligible land will be included
Q: How long is the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) contract in place for?
A: The crediting period for a registered project is 25 years, an ERF contract is for 7 or 10 years.
Q: My land is leasehold, can I still participate in the ERF?
A: Yes. Leasehold or a rolling lease does not prevent you from participating. However, you should seek legal advice.
Q: What happens if I want to sell my land?
A: A registered ERF project and contract can be transferred to new owners
Q: What happens if I have a fire, flood or drought?
A: Natural events are unavoidable and you will be liable for losses of carbon. However, it is expected that the carbon stock will recover with proper ongoing management so that over the longer term there will be minimal or no loss of carbon. You can apply your own safety mechanism by holding onto some of your Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).
Q: Do I have to sell the Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) when I register them?
A: No. After listing, they are like a share and can be held or sold.
Want to know more?
LDC Project Manager Andrew Yates
Clean Energy Regulator
Carbon farming in Queensland
How to Participate
ONCE you have made the decision to set up a carbon farming project using a particular method, there is a four-step process to follow to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund. For further information: (www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au).