Australian Government to reward flaming pig poo

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th November 2011

The Australian Government will provide pig farmers with the opportunity to earn carbon credits for burning their pig manure, if proposed new legislation is approved under the government’s new Carbon Farming Initiative.

The Federal Government has established the Carbon Farming Initiative to develop carbon offsetting methodologies so Australia’s farmers can receive credits for reducing their carbon output.

Under the Federal Government’s ‘Methodology for the Destruction of Methane Generated from Manure in Piggeries’ plan, farmers can capture the methane emissions produced by manure and destroy the gas by flaring to prevent it entering the atmosphere, or alternatively can use the methane to generate heat and electricity.

The methodology was developed in collaboration with the Australian Government, the pork industry and scientists, and assessed by the independent Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee.

Comments from government and industry

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig said, “Farmers can trade the offsets they generate for carbon credits, which they can then sell to generate income. This will put Australian farmers at the forefront of emission reduction practices and provide valuable opportunities for farmers to trade carbon offsets internationally.”

Australian Pork Limited CEO Andrew Spencer said that by using the methodology, producers could increase the return on each finished carcass by around A$3.45.

The Carbon Farming Initiative is expected to begin operating in December 2011.

The flaming pig poo is expected to be the first of many methodologies that will be available for Australian farmers to gain carbon credits. Others are expected to include savanna burning, landfill gas, waste diversion and environmental plantings.

Grants announced to fill ‘carbon research gap’

The Australian Government announced the first round of competitive grants funding under a A$201 million program called the ‘Filling the Research Gap’ program.

The government is seeking to provide financial assistance for new projects in emerging carbon abatement technologies, strategies and management practices aimed at “reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector over the next six years”.

Ideas mooted include further refinement of cattle genetics and feed alternatives to reduce livestock methane emissions and waste management strategies, new fertiliser technologies and management strategies to reduce soil nitrous oxide emissions, and new crop species to build soil carbon.

Eligible applicants include Australian research and development corporations, primary industry organizations, tertiary institutions, and other research centres, agencies and organisations. Applications for the round one grants close in February 2012.

Some environmentalists believe this new government funding program, which follows the recent passing of the carbon tax regime, may enhance Australia’s reputation for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – notwithstanding Australia is a world-leading exporter of coal to the rest of the world.

Others who are more sceptical say that the new program is a five-year compensation scheme providing a respite for farmers from a heftier tax burden that is likely to increase their production costs.