The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 passed through Parliament on 23 August 2011 and received royal assent on 15 September 2011. This legislation forms part of the Clean Energy Future Plan announced by the Government on 10 July 2011.
The aim of the scheme is to provide new economic opportunities for farmers, land managers and Indigenous people, whilst at the same time addressing Australia’s carbon and climate change concerns.
Under the legislation, landholders can receive carbon credits for activities undertaken on their land which contribute to reduced carbon emissions or increased carbon storage. Carbon emitters can then purchase these credits from landholders to offset their own emissions. It is anticipated that demand for these credits will come from those with obligations under international or state law, and voluntary markets.
Carbon farming credits can be gained from a range of land management activities, such as reforestation and revegetation, native forest protection, fertiliser management, feral animal management and savannah fire management. In order to gain and benefit from these credits, those seeking to participate in the carbon farming scheme will need to go through a range of processes, including submitting a project application for approval, compliance with a recognised offset methodology, reporting and verification and trading.
There is specific provision in the legislation designed to enable Indigenous participation in the scheme, for both Indigenous holders of land rights land and native title land. A $22 million fund to enable Indigenous participation in the Carbon Farming scheme has been established by the Government.
Further information on the Carbon Farming Initiative, including in relation to Indigenous participation, can be found at http://www.climatechange.gov.au/cfi.