Chair’s annual report 2022
Co-chair, Matthew Warnken
Members of the Soil Carbon Industry Group are already aware of soil carbon’s potential as a climate solution. However, while we are in the middle of a debate on the potential yield of carbon credits from agriculture activity, it is important to remember that recarbonising soil to the levels before European arrival would see around 150 gigatonnes of carbon returned to the Australian landscape.1 This is around 25 times Australia’s annual emissions from all sources. Managing the stock of soil carbon in the landscape also enables a step change in agricultural productivity and sustainability. Our industry is on the cusp of unlocking a wave of innovation and productivity gains in crops, pastures and technology. All while materially drawing down atmospheric CO2.
This past financial year saw Australia set a net zero target just in time for Glasgow (COP26 – The 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change – 31 October – 13 November 2021). Having attended Glasgow, it was clear to me that Agriculture was the next global sectoral target for decarbonisation. Australia’s leadership position in soil carbon stands out as Australia is still the only jurisdiction where soils count toward our Paris targets. Innovations from our industry are urgently needed across the world. Australia’s new 43 percent greenhouse gas target by 2030 under the Labor Federal Government will help power these gains.
The 2021/2022 year was the second full year of operation of the Soil Carbon Industry Group (SCIG) LLC. The highlight for the year was the release of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative—Estimation of Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration using Measurement and Models) Methodology Determination 2021 under the Emissions Reduction Fund. The Clean Energy Regulator spearheaded a well-managed co-design process. SCIG contributed practical detail to development of the new method through detailed member consultation and through investment with the Carbon Markets Institute in the Soil Carbon Taskforce. The 2018 soil carbon method was already rated the best soil carbon method in the world.2 The new 2021 method is stronger still.
During the year a soil carbon project was registered as the 1000th project participating in the ERF.3 Soil carbon is the fastest growing project category under the ERF. Over half the projects registered this year and last year are soil carbon projects. Confidence is building as industry members operationalise the new method. The race is now on for the first credits issued under the 2021 method.
Looking to the future, support for an industry body is crucial to mainstreaming soil as a nature-based solution for climate. Soil carbon needs a united industry voice in policy development, in directing research and generally
sharing common challenges. Member voices are stronger when we support one another.
The ongoing rationale for SCIG remains strong, especially with potential challenges such as The Chubb Review (Australian Government Independent review of Australian Carbon Credit Units).
The Chubb Review presents an opportunity to renew Australia’s carbon-crediting framework and ensure that it is fit for purpose in supporting Australia’s urgent transition to net zero and negative emissions. SCIG’s submission highlighted co-benefits of soil carbon in biodiversity, productivity and drought resilience in addition to the large abatement opportunity. The prime importance of the farming community is also relevant to this debate, in
particular giving farmers confidence to participate in ERF projects without fear of attack from minority fringe groups with an anti-offsets agenda.
SCIG will continue to articulate the value proposition of soil carbon as a climate solution. A big thankyou to members and directors for their individual contributions to SCIG and I look forward to setting strategic priorities for SCIG growth for the next financial year.
Co-Chair Soil Carbon Industry Group
Wednesday 19 October 2022
Co-chair, Louisa Kiely
As many Australians already struggle with the effects of climate change events, it is indeed important that the power of soil carbon sequestration as a solution continues to be recognised. It remains the largest carbon sink over which we have control.
As Matthew has outlined there are many changes afoot and the climate solutions which will gain traction are those with strong representation behind them.
Soil carbon needs a united industry voice in policy development, directing research, and generally sharing common challenges. Member voices are stronger when we support one another.
Soil carbon advocates have shown this commitment since the inception of the Carbon Farming markets. Through both left and right-leaning governments, the lobbying efforts have ensured that the soil carbon solution has attracted government investment. And the continued evolution of the method. We have three method iterations in the space of time that some have only been able to wish for one!!
This underlines the importance of SCIG to now carry this forward. Maintaining soil’s unique position in the carbon abatement.
It is my firm belief that to do this well we will need to evolve. Now is the time for expansion.
The good news is that market development is supporting such evolution.
From COP26 the converging corporate principles of net-zero by 2050, a fair and just transition, and ‘Nature-Based Solutions’ are key drivers for policy development.’Nature-Based Solutions’ are becoming the byword for all solutions which support natural systems.
Soils need to be front and centre of this new frontier, not an ‘also ran’.
For this reason CFA/Radicle has just announced the inaugural Nature-Based Solutions Conference & Expo in Brisbane in July 2023. This is the evolution of the successful National Carbon Farming Conference & Expos (pdf available).
To maintain soil carbon’s unique position, the conference will support an inaugural one-day SCIG Soil Carbon Summit.
The National Carbon Farming Conference & Expo in May 2022 was an inspiring and stimulating event. It was also a time to meet fellow industry members. After this event SCIG saw membership jump by over 50%.
The July 2023 conference can achieve even more. We have nine months to make this the showcase for soils that we want it to be! What contribution will you make?
Our constitution is our enabler:
SCIG as a company limited by guarantee has seen strong contributions from members, board members, and staff of member companies. It is also appropriate to acknowledge here the additional financial contributions by leading industry stakeholders to SCIG. Progress is possible because of the cheerful and diligent efforts throughout the year in managing the affairs of the company. Thanks to the Directors:
- Deane Belfield
- Philip Ireland
- Ben Sawley
- Louisa Kiely
- Chris McCosker
- Phil Mulvey
- Ignatius Verbeek
- Matthew Warnken
The board reached a service agreement with AgriProve to provide executive support to SCIG. Duncan Farquhar and Kate Carmichael are leading this work. SCIG continues to invest with Soil Carbon Taskforce, and we acknowledge the work of Lewis Dean and welcome Daniel Livne to the Project Officer role at the Carbon Market Institute. This team has recently allowed contributions to the Integrated Farm Management Methodology under development by the Clean Energy Regulator. Ensuring high standards for soil carbon measurement are maintained is a focus.
With such dedication, it is my sincere hope that we can build on the foundation we have started.
We look forward to setting strategic priorities after this meeting.
Co-chair Soil Carbon Industry Group
Wednesday 19 October 2022
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