Aussie farmers get ETS advantage

Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme will not include agriculture at its 2010 start date though it might be phased in after 2015.

The Australian Government says it does not consider it practical to include agriculture from the start, but hopes to have all major polluting industries covered by 2015.

New Zealand was the first country to feature the primary sector in an ETS, which will be introduced from 2013, with 90% free allocations to be phased out from 2018.

Australian National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) president David Crombie welcomed the news the sector would not be included from the start of the scheme and says farmers will be willing to play their part in meeting the climate change challenge.

‘No country in the world has yet found a way to equitably include its agricultural production in an ETS,’ Crombie says. ‘That is, with the exception of New Zealand, where farmers are now looking at margins reducing by up to 160% as a result.’

And can anyone explain why we’re doing that whent he cost is so high for little or no environmental benefit?

Crombie says the Government’s Green Paper takes into account the three key issues for farmers. These are the impracticalities of measuring, monitoring and verifying agricultural emissions; the need to fully grasp agriculture’s life cycle to account for carbon stored in soil, crops and pastures; and the need to challenge the international Kyoto rules to reflect Australia’s particular circumstances.

One of New Zealand agriculture’s major arguments against being the first country to include the sector has been the fear of losing a competitive advantage.

It has also called for delays until further research can deliver better measurement and mitigation techniques.

Both accurate measurement and effective mitigation are essential if the scheme is to have any validity and benefit.

The Australian Government recognises a joint effort with the industry is required before agriculture is included, and a final decision will be made in 2013.

The National Party refuses to support the New Zealand Government’s ETS on the grounds the policy has been rushed, arguing we should instead follow Australia’s moves.

An issue this important ought to have broad cross-party support. Labour’s approach doesn’t which means a sensible approach depends on them not being able to push the Emissions Trading Bill through parliament before the election.

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