Green farmers in Australia to get carbon credits if Gillard re-elected

11:06, August 15, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Saturday visited a farm on the New South Wales north coast to launch a new climate change initiative.

On the farm near Ballina in the marginal Labor seat of Page, Gillard announced that if re-elected, Labor will spend 46 million dollars (41 million U.S. dollars) setting up a scheme that would allow farmers to sell carbon credits that they earn from progressive farming practices.

They could attract credits by planting trees, applying fertilizer more efficiently or by planting crops without tilling the soil.

Gillard said farmers could earn 500 million dollars (446 million U.S. dollars) over the next decade by selling their credits on the international market.

"The carbon credits can be traded internationally. What does this mean? Less carbon in our atmosphere and more carbon credits for farmers," Gillard told ABC Network on Saturday.

"This is a scheme where polluters pay; they pay because they're the ones who buy credits... farmers can do what they want to do in the scheme and there is no cap.

"We are currently able to measure the carbon that's alleviated by growing trees. In terms of allocation of money we're announcing today, in part that money will go to developing science to measure the carbon we capture.

"I anticipate our Indigenous land owners will also be interested because it'll be a new stream of revenue for them."

The scheme is similar to one contained in the emissions trading scheme that Labor failed to get through Parliament last year.

Farmers' groups have broadly welcomed the policy, but said they need to examine it in closer detail.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong on Saturday said the Government would set rules to determine what types of greenhouse gas abatement can be rewarded with carbon credits.

"The most obvious one is planting trees; reforestation has been a long-standing approach to trying to store carbon and there are a lot of opportunities in Australia," Wong said.

"But we want to develop a whole range of methodologies, we want to make sure that farmers can have the opportunity to look at soil carbon, to look at manure management."

The Government would also provide funds to Land-care so its volunteers can educate farmers on how to earn credits.

The Opposition said the Government's climate policy is in disarray because it is reintroducing a slightly different version of the carbon offset policy it abolished six weeks ago.

Opposition Environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the policy short-changes farmers and the new scheme sounds a lot like the recently-axed greenhouse friendly program.

"This is a variation on what they abolished six weeks ago," he said.

"There was a well-functioning greenhouse-friendly market, the Government abolished it and the market collapsed.

"We've had farmers and abatement providers that have been in deep distress. This is an extraordinary act of chaos."

Source: Xinhua


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