Australia adds “blue carbon” to credit system


More farmers, businesses and industries claim cash from the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU), a financial product awarded to those who reduce carbon dioxide emissions by including mangroves and tidal wetlands in their carbon offsets. You will be able to convert it. Schematic.

One carbon credit represents one ton of carbon dioxide stored or avoided. They can be sold to the federal government with a $ 4.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) or auctioned to companies that want to reduce paper emissions by offsetting their emissions with purchased carbon credits. increase.

Projects that protect plant life and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are one type of carbon credit reward. An important note of the renewal was the inclusion of mangroves and floodplains to allow storage of “blue carbon”.

In addition to reducing emissions and providing economic benefits to landowners, communities and businesses, blue carbon incentives are also expected to improve water quality and protect coastal wetlands.

Epoch Times Photo
Murray River in Younghusband, South Australia. (Keith Clarkson / AIX)

ACCU will also be eligible for projects where biomethane, a natural gas alternative, is produced by waste gas refining and agricultural methods.

Energy and Emissions Minister Angus Taylor praised this mechanism as a way to reduce emissions, with $ 2.2 billion already committed across Australia, much of it in rural or rural areas. I have.

“ERF has already achieved savings of over 100 million tonnes, and these new methods will bring more projects and savings,” Taylor said. Said..

Shahana McKenzie, CEO of BioEnergy Australia, the peak body of the biogas industry, welcomed the new system.

“The new method will allow biomethane to be recovered from facilities such as wastewater treatment plants and other high methanogenic activities, which will allow it to be injected into the gas network and recognized,” said Mackenzie. I am.

“Capturing methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere is a big difference in that it reduces the amount of methane used for energy activity by about 20 times, rather than being released.”

Currently, ACCU’s target projects range from providing nitrate supplements to beef cattle to upgrading inefficient heating and cooling systems.

Carbon credit controversy

Australia’s carbon credits and expanded measures have been criticized by environmental groups for concerns that emissions reductions may not be effective.

The Australian Government grants landowners carbon credits to prevent the land from being cut down. This is because when a tree is cut down, its carbon content leaks into the atmosphere.

In fact, Australia relies heavily on forest and vegetation practices known as “land use, land use change, forestry” (LULUCF), which contributes more than 80% of the country’s emission reductions.

Epoch Times Photo
A plot of annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2002 to 2020. Australia total. Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). (Daniel Kumerev / Epoch Times)

One farmer Approximately 1 million carbon credits were awarded to protect 23,000 acres of forest at an ACCU price of $ 16. At that time it was worth about $ 16 million. Since then, ACCU has skyrocketed to about $ 55 per piece.

But September 2021 Report The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Australian Institute have accused the federal government of purchasing a $ 26.3 million ACCU from farmers who did not plan to cut vegetation anyway.

ACF climate change activist Sae Yamamoto has stated that ACCU systems now containing blue carbon are only beneficial if direct efforts result in mangrove and floodplain conservation. increase.

“If the new method meets strong integrity requirements, including the assurance that it is an” addition “to what happened anyway, the new method provides a new incentive to invest in the means that enable the creation of ACCUs. We offer the opportunity, “Harter told The Epoch.

“The new blue carbon method provides useful incentives to protect and restore carbon-rich seagrass meadows, mangroves, and other habitats. These habitats naturally add carbon to the landscape. It stores and also provides a variety of important habitat and ecosystem services. “

However, Mr. Harter said he believes that reducing emissions directly should take precedence over the heavy reliance on carbon offsets by carbon credits.

“Purchasing a climate emission offset should not take precedence over avoiding emissions altogether,” she said.

“Promising a rapid transition from coal and gas to renewable energy, or strongly supporting the transition to clean transport, is far more than adding a new way to create an ACCU. It has a big impact. “

Daniel Kumerev

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Daniel Khmelev is a Perth-based Australian reporter working on energy, technology and politics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, physics and computer science. Contact him at [email protected]