Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Carbon Emissions Reduction in Australia - Here We Come - Maybe: The Garnaut Report

The Garnaut Report - the final report is published today on 30 September 2008.

It is a gargantuan report, and is best digested in small bites.......a bit like a termite munching through wood! There is a significant chapter now on agriculture, and the report does join agriculture and forestry together as land users with potential for doing good, carbon wise.

Much will be made of the view espoused in the report that we need to reduce cattle and sheep and farm kangaroos, principally to reduce methane emissions. Maybe modification of the gut bacteria using modified bacteria is feasible as recently suggested at a conference I was at which looked at carbon issues in agriculture. A "big science" approach might be needed to achieve an outcome, but the payoff would be huge...and exportable. However, in the report, a 5-6% increase in costs at retail level for beef would occur at a carbon price around $20 per tonne. So that is modest, although cattle producers would have to purchase permits.

However, the potential for soil carbon sequestration is recognised......and about time, even in tropical savannah woodland, as the photo.

Savannah burning contributions to the carbon emissions, including the West Arnhem Savannah Burning Project gets a mention, but for Australia, the carbon contributed by this source is very small, even if large for northern Australia. In this project fire reduction by wet season buring at low intensity, funded by a large emitter, offsets their emissions from another source.

Carbon sequestration in soils has enormous potential for Australia, and the report does make some serious comment on that issue, with some detailed references on soil carbon management by Dr Rattan Lal among the citations. It is not just carbon is as much about higher soil productivity in Australia.

The chapter on agriculture and land use can be accessed at:

It is too detailed a topic to easily cover here and should be required reading by those in Australian agriculture.

More detail and individual chapters are available at .

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