Australia passes national carbon trading scheme for agriculture, forestry
Australia's parliament passed the world's first national carbon trading scheme for credits generated from farming and forestry, reports Reuters.
The program, dubbed the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), allows farmers to generate tradeable carbon offsets from projects that reduce emissions from agriculture and forestry, sectors that account for 23 percent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
CFI is a precursor to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's proposed tax on carbon emissions, which is set to go into effect starting July 2012. The carbon tax will initially apply only to Australia's largest industrial emitters — the agricultural sector is excluded, but CFI will enable farmers and foresters to earn money from planting trees, reducing the use of fire and fertilizer, and cutting emissions from livestock. Offsets generated by these activities can be purchased by companies affected by the carbon tax, reducing their effective tax burden. Australian companies can also buy offsets from overseas activities, including certified Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) projects in tropical countries, provided these foreign credits amount to no more than half their total offsets.
CANBERRA Aug 22 (Reuters) - Australia's parliament on Monday endorsed the world's first national scheme that regulates the creation and trade of carbon credits from farming and forestry to complement government plans to put a price on carbon emissions from mid-2012.
The laws, the first major bills passed by the government with Greens support in the upper house Senate since the Greens took the balance of power on July 1, are a precursor to the carbon price laws to be put to parliament later this year.
Known as the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), the new laws allow farmers and investors to generate tradeable carbon offsets from farmland and forestry projects that polluters can buy and use to meet mandatory emissions reductions.
The laws passed with a range of government amendments, and will now return to the lower house to be rubber-stamped.
(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by David Fogarty)