There is a lot happening in the agriculture industry in the aftermath of COP26 and Australian Government Net Zero 2050 announcements. Industry is moving towards a Net Zero emissions target by 2030 and there are pressures from global markets and financiers for emissions accountability.
Holbrook Landcare’s role in this space is:
Agriculture is responsible for 16% of Australia’s GHG emissions, with livestock and agricultural soils being the largest sources of the potent GHGs methane and nitrous oxide.
Agriculture contributes to GHG emissions through:
Our agricultural landscape also has the ability to capture and store carbon by:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fact Sheet Series:
The ERF will support Australian landholders and farmers to take practical, direct action to reduce emissions and improve the environment. Through the ERF, the Government can purchase carbon credits (ACCUs), providing incentives for landholders to proactively reduce their GHG emissions by adopting new carbon farming practices on farm.
To participate in the ERF you must develop a project that follows the rules set out in an approved method, to measure the abatement it delivers. Projects are awarded one ACCU for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent of sequestered carbon or avoided emissions.
For more information on approved methods and how to participate visit the Clean Energy Regulator website www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au
In the aftermath of COP26 and Australian Government Net Zero 2050 announcement, there is a lot in the media about the role of agriculture and the move towards CN30 championed by MLA.
The carbon and environmental accounting space is very busy and confusing at the moment. Some HLN members have recently been through a Carbon assessment as part of a Landcare Farming Project, and some have been introduced to a method of biodiversity accounting – Accounting for Nature that is in early development.
See the Summary report for the ten producers here
For Carbon, there are a number of online tools that can help you get an overall picture of your emissions profile. The one we have most experience in so far for livestock producers, is the University of Melbourne’s “Greenhouse Accounting Frameworks (GAF).” Note there are several tools designed for different enterprises which can be found at: https://www.piccc.org.au/resources/Tools
After an initial assessment using the tools mentioned, there are few pathways for farmers to ‘accredit’ as Carbon Neutral at the moment, but they will develop. The Australian Government certification method which can be seen at: https://www.climateactive.org.au/be-climate-active/certification
There are opportunities through private commercial providers too – it’s unclear of the actual methods and systems for some of them, but generally they relate back to the Australian Government standard. They may be brokers who offer “carbon neutral’ but are really wanting to buy credits you may generate. Its very likely that there will be other mechanisms available in the near future as industry invests in it.
If you are looking to produce carbon credits, through the establishment of a carbon project on farm, then that is a different thing and another set of pathways again. You must baseline according to the relevant methodology before you undertake the works.
It is worth mentioning that some producers that have gone down a carbon neutral pathway are not necessarily carbon neutral through their own practice changes – some of them are buying carbon credits from elsewhere for their account as they transition their enterprises. So don’t beat yourself up!
For example, are you thinking of Carbon as a future income stream? Do you just want to know your status for your own peace of mind and to contribute to the industry target? Are you likely to need to be meeting a requirement for marketing accreditation? The pathways forward will be different depending on what you want to do.
We are looking at organising some training for using the Greenhouse Accounting Framework tools in the new year and if this is something that interests you, please get in touch.
More information about carbon accounting and getting started can be found at:
The Farmers for Climate Action ran a webinar recently and the second speaker provided a really clear and succinct summary for what this means for farmers – recommend a watch.
Everyone can make a contribution to reducing GHG emissions through the management choices they make. For individual farm businesses there is a two-stage process involved when embarking on an assessment of a farm’s carbon footprint:
HLN carried out on-farm GHG snapshots on eight farming properties across the Holbrook region, with the aim of establishing a GHG emissions baseline for each farm business.
The case studies were developed using the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework (GAF) calculator for Australian Dairy, Sheep, Beef or Grains farms. The calculator was developed by the University of Melbourne and uses the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory method to estimate the source and scale or GHG emissions from agricultural enterprises. The calculator was used to determine the current GHG emissions on the property and scenarios were modelled to determine emission reduction options.
The three gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) were accounted for and expressed as tonnes of CO2 equivalent (t CO2-e). Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) is a term for describing different GHGs in a common unit, with regards to their global warming potential. For any quantity and type of GHG, CO2-e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact.
These three gases are emitted in the normal course of agricultural production, including livestock enteric fermentation, wastes, diesel machinery and fertilisers. Importantly the amount produced is influenced by farm management decisions.
HLN is currently updating the Case Studies and factsheets produced under the Carbon farming for Your Business Project to include revisions of the calculator.
Revised information will be available soon.