This blog’s fraternity of AGW denialists (climate realists) would be dismayed to learn that their good friend Al Gore was in Sydney yesterday to open the Financial and Energy Exchange (FEX). Another good friend, Bob Carr introduces the “big man” here.
Their web site states: “FEX Climate Pty Ltd is the carbon and environmental arm of Financial and Energy Exchange Ltd a new platform for trading sustainability and cleantech stocks, financial, energy, carbon and environmental commodities and derivatives. The Financial and Energy Exchange (FEX) is supported by significant international investment and global partners including sharing its headquarters at 5 Bridge Street in Sydney with business news broadcaster CNBC. Internationally renowned derivatives trader, Brian Price, is the founder and CEO of FEX. FEX Climate has been built from the ground up a dedicated group, lead by CEO Fiona Waterhouse, who believes the market has an important role to play in directing investment towards businesses which use and produce sustainable technologies, products and services.”
But the real action was happening quietly up in the grazing paddocks of central Queensland. Bypassing the political debate over recent vegetation legislation and scientific researchers dreaming of a rural carbon market, Terry McCosker has established the CarbonLink company , a sister company, to the well known grazing consultancy, Resource Consulting Services (RCS) . RCS being a big advocate of the somewhat controversial cell grazing technology.
Carbonlink (CL) has developed enough credentials to be part of FEX. CL can estimate soil carbon reserves and their improvement through better grazing management. The company acts as an aggregator combining carbon on offer from various graziers, into packages large enough to be of interest to European or US emitters for a sale through the FEX. In a lead from private enterprise FEX seems to also have bypassed the government debate on possible trading systems.
Despite the Greenhouse Office and Minister McGauran being bearish over the prospects for sequestering carbon in Australian soils, McCosker is upbeat saying that grazing systems have plenty of capability compared to cropping lands, and that there are secondary improvements in pasture production, soil structure, and improved pasture quality resulting in less methane emission from grazing cattle.
CL hopes to have a 100,000 tonnes of CO2 for sale on FEX by Christmas.
CL press release says ” CL is in the process of verifying its first packages of soil carbon from several properties in eastern Australia.”
This carbon is expected to be available for trading in the coming months.
“When people think carbon they usually think trees,” according to CL chief executive, and soil and agribusiness consultant Rod Rush.”
“But in reality 75pc of carbon in and on the earth’s land mass is in the soil. We have a tremendous opportunity to utilise soil’s ability to absorb additional carbon through the right land management practices.”
“There is good evidence to suggest that the practice of cell grazing will facilitate soil carbon sequestration.”
“It is an added bonus of this managed pasture process under which livestock come on and off the pasture in a controlled fashion, with the pasture grazed for short periods, spelled while root reserves rebuild, regrow and are then grazed again.”
“Producers who have made good land use decisions in the past and those who choose to adopt these practices in the future will capitalise on that because soil carbon is poised to become a tradeable resource.”
“The good managers are running their farms in a manner that maximises root deposition in their soils and hence fixes much more soil carbon than is held in soils grazed traditionally.”
“Soil carbon can be measured by soil sampling and analysis and then traded as carbon credits,” he said.
“The bigger the active root matter of pasture, the more carbon is fixed.”
“The great thing is that cell grazing, unlike tree planting as a carbon-fixing option, does not lock up land and make it non-productive.”
“We are still verifying our processes, but CL plans to aggregate carbon, sequestered by groups of producers who commit to grazing management practices, that over the subsequent 10 years will sequester and maintain the resource.”
“For example, a 1pc increase in organic matter over a 10-year period may capture about 50 tonnes of CO2 that is worth about $1,000/ha gross before costs, at current retail prices.”
“There will be a proving period for each producer about how much CO2/hectare is being sequestered, with soils analysed in the first year of a commitment and then measured again in, for example, the 5th and 10th years to calculate any gains. ”
You can listen to McCosker advocate the scheme.
CL is the second carbon accreditation scheme to be launched in Australia over the last year – with Christine Jones launching Western Australia’s Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme (ASCAS) in March 2007.
Of course innovative graziers like Alan Lauder have been advocating carbon grazing incorporating saltbush as a philosophy for land management for over a decade but it’s McCosker who’s trying to break into the big international trading markets.
Industry commentary on rural carbon trading is available here and if you’re really keen rock up to the big carbon farming expo at Mudgee in November 2007. (IPA and denialists apply hard hats before entering these web sites)
So Queensland Country Life ran today with “CARBON: Why there’s real money in dirt”
OK are “dirty” greenhouse deals in dirt the way to go. It’s a long term commitment. Many decades. Does it add up? Are there side effects? Will global warming increase microbial activity and work against the sequestration? Can you realistically account for something you can’t see? How do emitters know what they’ve really got? Do you believe the sampling and science. Has Steve McIntyre audited the system personally? (Or has Hansen adjusted it?)
But it’s innovative. It’s not whinging. Don’t have to put up with touchy forestry types. It has positive land management benefits. It gets a new income stream into remote areas and extensive grazing. It’s free enterprise. And it does unify the city and bush. Needs good science input. It’s Australian high tech low tech hybrid !! Many things I’m passionate about. Oh yea – and it might help with CO2 sequestration too. What’s McCosker up to next – surely this isn’t just the limit – Aaron Edmonds must be out there somewhere.
What do you think: is there money in dirt or is it a dirty deal?