Australian carbon industry group welcomes Nationals’ openness to net-zero target

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday June 23, 2021

David Littleproud-Barnaby Joyce
David Littleproud says the modernisation plan complements the $147 million in government funding since July to bolster agricultural innovation. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Hopeful sounds that the Nationals are open to supporting a net-zero emissions target for Australia have been welcomed by the Carbon Market Institute (CMI)

Remarks made by Nationals’ deputy leader David Littleproud about his party being open to considering a net-zero target by 2050 once members have seen modelling of the proposal have been welcomed by CMI.

Littleproud told ABC Radio on Wednesday that there were financial benefits for primary producers engaging in emissions-reducing programs (such as carbon farming), adding that once National MPs had considered relevant modelling, they would ‘have a conversation with our Coalition partners about what that looks like, and how regional and rural Australia plays a role in that’. 

CMI president John O’Connor underscored the opportunity available to communities in regional and remote Australia if a net-zero emissions target was set. As an example, he pointed to a successful 10 years of carbon farming and said that the once ‘boutique’ industry had transformed and was not at a ‘turning point.

“Carbon farming in Australia has come a long way since the Carbon Farming Initiative Act was passed a decade ago,” O’Connor said. 

“It is no longer a boutique industry, rather a springboard for regional economic development that provides new revenue streams for farmers, as well as substantial other economic, social and environmental co-benefits.”

O’Connor noted that with good policy settings that were well-considered, the domestic carbon market could deliver additional benefits to regional Australia through decarbonisation and carbon sequestration requirements. A roadmap devised by the CMI has shown how by 2030 more than 20,000 new jobs could be created and carbon project revenue of $20 billion could be generated.

“With the right policies, and a laser-like focus on integrity, our carbon farming industry can also become a major export industry of carbon reduction credits and expertise to a world increasingly demanding them,” O’Connor said.  

The CMI is an independent industry group whose interests sit at ‘at the centre of business and climate action’. The group established the first code of conduct for the carbon industry to ensure best practice to protect farmers, consumers and native title interests. 

O’Connor said the group lauded pragmatic efforts by the federal government but said more should be done to evolve the carbon market to include firm commitments to net zero by 2050 and stronger targets for 2030.

“Like any new industry there have been, and will be, issues as [the carbon industry] expands,” O’Connor said.

“CMI has been working with the federal government on the emissions reduction fund (established under the Abbott government) method priorities such as soil carbon and blue (coastal) carbon, as well as landscape or method stacking initiatives which should feature in the next priorities to be established later this year.”

“CMI is committed to maximising the opportunities for regional Australia and effective climate action as we transition our economy to net-zero emissions before 2050.”

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