CARBON MINING - Good News Climate Story or Greenwashing?
Ever wondered where your carbon offset money goes to when you tick that green box on your flight?
Believe it or not it goes directly into restoring and regenerating our forests and soils, while helping to reduce rural suicide rates (I worked in this industry and saw these impacts first hand). This is the industry where money does really grow on trees.
But really...is this all too good to be true you ask? Money surely doesn’t grow on trees!
So what is carbon farming...is it just another greenwashing con or is it actually beneficial for the environment, economy and society as some make out? Some would have heard about carbon farming as a solution to climate change. Some would have heard criticism towards it, others would have heard nothing but praise.
This article will outline the pro’s and con’s of carbon farming as simply and clearly as possible.
WHAT IS CARBON FARMING?
The most simple way to describe this form of farming is to think of mining. We are currently putting 110 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every single day that causes climate change. We essentially need to mine that excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it somewhere safely to reduce those global climate impacts. There are in fact scientific methodologies that allow us to do just this, draw down the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into carbon for safe storage. And this can all be done using nature because the safest way to store carbon is through the regeneration of our forests, oceans and soils.
PRO’S OF CARBON FARMING
There are many benefits to carbon farming initiatives for companies and in particular large landholders such as farmers which I will outline below:
* Provides an income to landholders/farmers during times of hardship such as drought (which is increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change)
* Helps to regenerate land, soils and ocean for a healthy environment and climate
* Reduces mental health issues in rural areas by providing financial security
* Creates thousands of jobs and stimulates industry
* Provides a model where the regeneration of nature is profitable
* Helps to reverse the impacts of climate change by storing harmful greenhouse gases in our forests, oceans and soils through different scientific methodologies.
CHALLENGES OF CARBON FARMING
Yes, there are currently some challenges the carbon farming industry currently faces, in Australia and worldwide which are outlined below:
* There is no global price on carbon so the industry relies on government funding or voluntary schemes
* The absence of a carbon price doesn’t allow some methodologies of carbon farming to be economically viable - such as soil carbon
* The absence of a carbon price means that the carbon credit price will be lower, meaning that more credits will need to be generated making larger land areas more profitable than smaller landholders
* Current farmer misunderstanding of carbon methodologies depending on geographical experiences (some areas more viable than others depending on the amount of carbon that can be generated)
* Misguided perceptions that land allocated to carbon projects is ‘locked’ up and not allowed to be managed.
There are many easy solutions to the challenges the carbon industry faces with no foreseeable major roadblocks:
* The Paris Climate Agreement allows for an agreed global carbon price through a regulated international framework - needs to be a global carbon price
* Significant public push for more climate action - will incentivise governments to allocate more resources
* Growing awareness of carbon farming benefits
* Need to implement more storytelling into the selling and buying of carbon - for example Qantas need to explain that if you pay to offset your carbon on your flight it will go into growing a tree on a farm - this will incentivise others to invest in the offset program
* A global carbon price would allow the industry to regulate itself - emissions would simultaneously reduce while companies become more innovative to pay less to offset while the carbon farming industry would be entirely funded through those offsets.
The Paris Climate Agreement sets the international framework for a global carbon price which would stimulate the carbon farming industry. Carbon dioxide is a natural resource, like anything else...like gold, like oil. If we begin to see carbon as the building block for all life, and value that block the same way we would a block of gold, the carbon industry will explode.
There is a trillion dollar untapped gold mine sitting up there in the atmosphere right now. Yes there are challenges in mining it, but there are challenges in everything we do. That hasn’t stopped us before, and it shouldn’t now.
This industry is the future of humanity, we can turn the global capitalism model on its head by basing it on the regeneration of nature and not degeneration. And we can do that all just by placing a monetary value on nature.
It’s really that simple.
(Written by Environmental Scientist Khory Hancock, 06 September 2020)
Further reading from *) Khory Hancock:
*) Khory Hancock (known as The Environmental Cowboy) is a country boy & Environmental Scientist on a journey that aims to inspire a complete regeneration of our forests, oceans and soils. He is an Environmental Scientist with a vision to empower others to regenerate our natural world ultimately creating a more sustainable future for our world.
Climate change is by far the biggest threat the world faces and Khory (aka The Environmental Cowboy) is starting an industry wide movement to drastically reduce our carbon emissions (by using renewable energy) and capitalise on the economic and social opportunities to draw it back down out of the atmosphere and store it safely in our oceans, forests and soils (carbon farming).
Khory originally comes from a 30 000 acre cattle station on Carnarvon Gorge, central Queensland, Australia. Growing up on the land helping his family run cattle for a living taught him basic sustainability principles - about giving back and looking after the land so that it could continue to support us. Khory now works as an environmental professional across many different industries including carbon farming, land management and rehabilitation, water management, regenerative agriculture and Light Rail (public transport). He is a highly sought after public speaker and social media influencer that provides solutions to the environmental challenges we face at an individual and company level. He uses the 'cowboy' persona to communicate the messages more effectively to the public. Join The Environmental Cowboy for adventure after adventure that inspires and is full of laughs for all!