How to guide the terrestrial carbon market to deliver multiple economic and environmental benefits
The focus in climate change policy has centred on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation, manufacturing and transport, because this is fundamental to any solution to climate change.
The science now tells us that it will be next to impossible for nations to achieve the scale of reductions required in sufficient time to avoid dangerous climate change unless we also remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in vegetation and soils.
Terrestrial carbon includes carbon stored in forests, woodlands, swamps, grasslands, farmland, soils, and derivatives of these carbon stores, including biochar and biofuels.
The power of terrestrial carbon to contribute to the climate change solution is profound.
At a global scale, a 15% increase in the world’s terrestrial carbon stock would remove the equivalent of all the carbon pollution emitted from fossil fuels since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
The multiple public policy benefits for Australia in adopting full terrestrial carbon offsets are enormous, but there are also significant risks of an unregulated terrestrial carbon market to other areas of public policy.
If we plan wisely, terrestrial carbon presents an economic opportunity of unparalleled scale to address a range of other great environmental challenges confronting Australia: repairing degraded landscapes, restoring river corridors, improving the condition of our agricultural soils, and conserving Australia’s biodiversity.
Mr Peter Cosier, Prof. Tim Flannery, Dr Ronnie Harding, Prof. David Karoly, Prof. David Lindenmayer, Prof. Hugh Possingham FAA, Mr Robert Purves AM, Dr Denis Saunders AM, Prof. Bruce Thom, Dr John Williams and Prof. Mike Young.
We acknowledge the contribution made by Ms Ilona Millar, Senior Associate, Climate Change Law, Baker & McKenzie; Professor Peter Grace, Director and Professor of Global Change, Institute for Sustainable Resource, Queensland University of Technology; Ms Fiona McKenzie, former Policy Analyst, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists; Dr Neil Byron, resource economist and Commissioner, Productivity Commission; Ms Jane McDonald, Researcher and Policy Analyst, and Mr Tim Stubbs, Consulting Engineer, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.