Monday, December 29, 2008

Coalition targets carbon policy gap

Katharine Murphy 
December 30, 2008

THE Coalition will unveil a major policy on deforestation and agriculture in a renewed effort to take on the Rudd Government, which has faced wide-ranging criticism of its greenhouse targets and climate change policies.

With the Government under pressure from environmentalists, business and its hand-picked adviser, Ross Garnaut, the Opposition is regrouping internally on a new package of measures that fill gaps in the Government's emissions trading scheme.

The policy is being developed jointly by Liberal environment spokesman Greg Hunt, and by NSW Nationals Senator John "Wacka" Williams — one of the more militant senate Nationals who split with Liberal senators late this year.

■ Government emissions trading scheme omits deforestation and agriculture.

■ Opposition policy aims to help farmers use their soil to sequester carbon dioxide.

The joint process follows a mid-December crisis meeting of the Coalition leadership and party heavyweights in an effort to restore harmony, which had been strained by a series of damaging policy splits between the Liberal and the National parties.

The new joint process is intended to keep both Coalition partners in the tent, with splits emerging over critical climate change questions including the starting date for emissions trading, and the use of tax breaks for forest planting.

The policy is expected to include a commitment to halve emissions from deforestation within five years, building on a $200 million global forests initiative unveiled by the Howard government.

It will also include tax breaks or other incentives to help Australian farmers use their soil to sequester carbon dioxide.

The Opposition has been considering work by a high-level consortium of farmers, scientists and engineers on the merits of adding "biochar" to the soil.

According to some researchers, biochar makes soil more productive, and also increases its performance as a "sink" for storing carbon, thereby reducing damaging greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Mr Hunt told The Age the Government had "dropped the ball on the global greening project" by leaving out deforestation and by keeping farmers outside the scheme.

"We think that this is wrong — not a minor error but an extraordinary strategic gap," Mr Hunt said.

The Rudd Government — despite protests — decided to leave deforestation and agriculture out of its emissions trading scheme in the first instance, a move that has left room for the Opposition to develop an alternative policy position.

Environmentalists have attacked the Government's carbon reduction targets as too low, while some businesses groups have called for the scheme to be delayed because of the global financial crisis, and Professor Garnaut blasted the Government's recent white paper.

1 comment:

Erich J. Knight said...

Changing World Technologies

Ultimately we must leave the combustion age behind. Charcoal to the soil is a bridging first step as other energy conversion technologies bloom from Nano and bio reasearch. Thankfully we can do TP now.

Oil interest must come to see the overwhelming value of their carbon as the feedstock for the manufacture ( via carbon nanotubes, fullerines, DNA programed nano self assembly, etc.) of virtually all things in the near future.

This convergences of different technologies will end the Combustion age.

Terra Preta starts as a soil nano technology with increased CEC, than a micro tech with our wee- beasties / fungus, and macro with bugs and worms.

Biotic Carbon, the carbon transformed by life, should never be combusted, oxidized and destroyed. It deserves more respect, reverence even, and understanding to use it back to the soil where 2/3 of excess atmospheric carbon originally came from.

We all know we are carbon-centered life, we seldom think about the complex web of recycled bio-carbon which is the true center of life. A cradle to cradle, mutually co-evolved biosphere reaching into every crack and crevice on Earth.

It's hard for most to revere microbes and fungus, but from our toes to our gums (onward), their balanced ecology is our health. The greater earth and soils are just as dependent, at much longer time scales. Our farming for over 10,000 years has been responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. This soil carbon, converted to carbon dioxide, Methane & Nitrous oxide began a slow stable warming that now accelerates with burning of fossil fuel.

Wise Land management; Organic farming and afforestation can build back our soil carbon,
Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living soil biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.

The recent EU permits granted 3RAgroCarbon , after 4 years of testing show Biochar's massive increase in yields of more than 100%
"Doses: 400 kg / ha – 1000 kg / ha at different horticultural cultivars
Plant height Increase 141 % versus control
Picking yield Increase 630 % versus control
Picking fruit Increase 650 % versus control
Total yield Increase 202 % versus control
Total piece of fruit Increase 171 % versus control
Fruit weight Increase 118 % versus control"

Indeed, Dr. James Hansen, NASA's top Atmospheric authority, is now placing it in the center stage of pro-active solutions for the climate crisis.

As Dr. Lehmann at Cornell points out, "Closed-Loop Pyrolysis systems are the only way to make a fuel that is actually carbon negative". and that " a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year-an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions! "

Terra Preta Soils Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 10X Lower CH4 & N2O soil emissions, and 3X FertilityToo

This some what orphaned new soil technology speaks to so many different interests and disciplines that it has not been embraced fully by any. I'm sure you will see both the potential of this system and the convergence needed for it's implementation.

The integrated energy strategy offered by Charcoal based Terra Preta Soil technology may
provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
structure without climate degradation, other than nuclear power.

Senator / Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has done the most to nurse this biofuels system in his Biochar provisions in the 07 & 08 farm bill,

POZNAN, Poland, December 10, 2008 - The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) announces that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has submitted a proposal to include biochar as a mitigation and adaptation technology to be considered in the post-2012-Copenhagen agenda of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A copy of the proposal is posted on the IBI website at
The International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

In a recent National Public Radio interview, Michael Pollan talks about how he was approached by a Democratic party staffer about his New York Times article, The"Farmer & an open letter to the next president concerning U.S. agriculture/energy policy. The staffer wanted Pollan to summarize the article into a page or two to get it into the hands of Barack Obama. Pollan declined, saying that if he could have said everything that needed to be said in two pages, he wouldn't have written 8000 words.

Michael Pollan is well briefed about Biochar technology, but did not include it in his "Farmer & Chief" article to President Obama, (Which he did read & cited in a speech) but I'm sure Biochar will be his 8001th word to him.

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