Reducing GHG emissions
The Australian Government is committed to reducing Australia's GHG emissions by 26-28 per cent below year 2005 levels, and to achieving this reduction by 2030. The Government has adopted policies to promote technologies and practices that will help to achieve this target.
In addition, Australian industry is also taking measures to meet the challenge. Agriculture and land use change are significant contributors to Australia's National Inventory of GHGs.
Land-based GHG mitigation
The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), established in 2011, enables farmers and landholder to earn credits for reducing GHGs. Approved emissions reduction projects, once implemented, receive credits which can be sold to parties wanting to offset their emissions. The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), with updated methodologies, has now replaced the CFI.
CSIRO has played a key role in the development of land-based GHG mitigation through the land sector. Through this role, CSIRO has helped inform the policies of multiple governments, commencing with the 'seminal' study on the potential for the land sector through research and participatory processes. CSIRO’s research has underpinned the national carbon accounting system and the development of formally recognised practices and accounting, and monitoring and verification processes of use in the CFI, and now the ERF. Important also has been CSIRO’s trusted advisor relationships and their role in, and contribution to, technical working groups – to design the current auction process and ensured that the national accounting system appropriately attributes and accounts for emissions.
CSIRO has worked with others to assess, define and enable the delivery of economic, social, environmental benefits to the land sector. CSIRO's work has delivered cultural and economic benefits to Indigenous land managers and assessed where there can also be benefits to biodiversity from changed burning practices. Modelling work has demonstrated the synergy between soil carbon accumulation and soil productive capacity.
In addition, CSIRO has enabled and supported new businesses operating in the emerging carbon market, including the partnership with CarbonLink for the commercialisation of CSIRO's Soil Condition Analysis System (SCANS), and the provision of sampling algorithms and approaches to Carbon Conscious (now Alterra Ltd). CSIRO’s work has made significant improvements to the national carbon accounting system in forests, soil carbon accounting and livestock methane.
This case study examines three elements of CSIRO's GHG mitigation work as part of the Land and Water Business Unit. They are the:
- Northern beef methane emissions project
- Savanna management project,
- FutureFeed project.
Revised accounting has helped Australia meet its GHG target
These three project have resulted in:
- A large number of significant publications and reports
- A major correction to previous estimates of GHG emissions from northern beef cattle
- New methodologies which are now the basis of carbon credits for improved savanna management
- A new animal feed supplement that reduces methane emissions from ruminant animals and increases their rate of growth
- Significant economic, social and environmental benefits
- The net present value of just these three projects is estimated to be $166 million.