GRANTS will be available soon under a new $20.3 million program that will help landowners gain independent advice on carbon farming, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen told a Carbon Market Institute forum in Cairns today.
Grants under the federal government’s Carbon Farming Outreach Program “will fund trusted and independent advisors to provide training and support to landholders across Australia, so they can make informed decisions about participation in carbon markets”, Minister Bowen told CMI’s Carbon Farming Industry Forum.
Minister Bowen emphasised that ensuring public confidence in the integrity of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) “is fundamental to the success of the carbon market”.
“The Chubb Review recommended that while ACCU scheme arrangements were sound, there were sensible changes we could and should make to strengthen the scheme,” he said.
The government has accepted in principle the Review’s 16 recommendations, and is “already well underway with implementation”.
“We have put in place new governance and transparency arrangements,” the Minister said.
The Clean Energy Regulator is also taking additional steps to ensure it administers vegetation projects known as Human-Induced Regeneration (HIR) projects in a manner that is consistent with the Chubb Review recommendation, he noted.
CMI CEO John Connor welcomed the Minister’s update, noting that the industry sits at key crossroads on integrity, scale and the delivery of co-benefits to communities:
“It really is crunchtime as these key reforms begin to undergo implementation. We must get integrity right, but we also need to be ready to maximise the benefits of these projects at a scale that will drive forward our climate action and our economic transition.”
“As today’s Carbon Farming Scorecard results highlighted, there is a growing recognition of the potential contribution of carbon farming to national emission avoidance and removal activities, however for many jurisdictions, this is yet to be adequately resourced and supported at the scale required,” he said.
In addition, Minister Bowen noted that the government had legislated for the publication of carbon estimation area data for vegetation projects, and related contextual information.
The Minister announced that the government was now starting consultation on a second tranche of administrative and legislative changes in response to the Chubb Review recommendations.
“We need to, and are, implementing these arrangements with haste to ensure certainty for the sector and investors,” he said.
However, changes will only be made after thorough consultation, including on measures to ensure that Native Title consents are provided before carbon farming projects are registered, the Minister said.
The government will also release a detailed implementation plan for all of the Chubb Review recommendations in coming weeks, he said.
Minister Bowen described the development of an improved savannah fire management method for earning ACCUs as a personal priority, as well as a priority for the government.
The Minister said the government had “made good progress” in tackling climate change since it took office a year ago, noting that the strengthened Safeguard Mechanism had placed businesses covered by the scheme “on a realistic path to net zero by 2050”.
Source: Carbon Market Institute
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