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admin 13.03.2014

We see in this, our first issue, what a valuable process Biochar is for reducing carbon pollution.
Not surprisingly, conflicts of interest and opinion will exist, but so too ways to resolve some of them. The Federal Australian Government’s involvement in the proposed clean energy future is apparent in the legislation.
We should not assume the Act’s preparatory and insignificant status ahead on an Emissions Trading Scheme. The framers of the Act benefitted from hindsight, learning from earlier schemes such as those of New Zealand’s and Europe’s and there is evidence of this in the Australian Clean Energy Act 2011.
Responsible boards and individuals will have to work on the assumption the legislation is a ‘done-deal’ and so too an ETS. The associated 18 individual Acts in the Australian Clean Energy Act 20117 necessarily mesh with a great deal of existing legislation on anything from fuel excise (import tax) to farm income taxation. The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is an Australian Government scheme to help farmers, forest growers and landholders earn income from reducing emissions like nitrous oxide and methane through changes to agricultural and land management practices. In a section awkwardly named “Additionality”, the draft regulations associated with the Carbon Farming Initiative provide information about what schemes will attract carbon credit. Of course, to indicate the necessity of regulations (since I suspect there are always a few doubters here!) simple exclusions get listed as non-compliant, for example, activities such as propagating noxious weeds or plantations specifically designed for taxation reduction purposes. Biochar will compete with many initiatives for attracting investment so it will need to prove particularly cost effective, as against the traded value of carbon and other technologies (say tree plantations). Quite clearly this legislation adds considerable complexity to the opportunities for Biochar practice. These then become part of the Biochar wider connection – of its evaluation, accreditation and economic assessment – its new operating environment in the wider world. A specific Biochar Capacity Building Project11 is included in the Carbon Farming Initiative 2011. Overall the legislation is politically powerful because it establishes a precedent that despite opposition will not be changed easily. For this legislation to be overturned and replaced in the peculiar circumstances of the Australian Parliament, it needs to pass through the Australian Senate.
The Australian Constitution, Section 57 fails to say what is ‘blocking’ (by the Senate which is however unconstitutional), although central legislation like this will give a new hostile government adequate ‘legs’ or legitimacy for a double dissolution.
Some Australians now say they got what they voted for, although they are entitled to say it was not a Carbon tax they wanted as the scheme discussed is called, (because the price is fixed by the government), but rather an ETS. There are rewards rather than empty pockets and wishful thoughts –sustainability must include its practitioners.
I have not included a reference list as the links in text contain all the material that is important while the reflections on government process come from years of teaching Australian Politics. 1 Contemporary governments before the recent and ongoing financial crisis saw themselves as, at best, regulators –which they failed at in regard to the crisis. CRAFT should not be confused with Craft Australia: "the peak national advocacy organisation for Australian contemporary craft and design".
However, after serving the CRAFT community of Australia since 1971, Craft Australia is being defunded from November 2011. If you wish to challenge this decision, you can sign this petition: Help save Craft Australia!
Please note that by using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies by Zurich on this and our other UK websites. Watch this short video to find out how Insider can provide you with the insight from Zurich you need, when you need it. Reading this article counts towards accumulating your annual CII structured learning hours. The Energy Act 2011, which promises a big shake-up of the real estate sector, is coming and commercial landlords are being forced to take a long, hard look at their portfolios. It is estimated that around 20% of all commercial properties will not hit minimum energy efficiency standards under the new legislation, to be enforced from April 2018, making it impossible to let a property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’ after this date. However, Zurich is offering support to brokers and their clients when it comes to assessing their property portfolios, with its partnership with 4See Environmental, an energy consultancy which has expert knowledge in allowing landlords to help improve their EPC ratings.
Access to this advice will enable landlords to better understand the inherent risks that sit in their portfolio and how they can best manage them in relation to the changing legislative framework. Recent research by 4See Environmental says that the problem of landlords having to complying in full with the Energy Act may, in fact, be far greater than previously thought. And although the legislation may seem some way in the distance, it will be with us sooner than we think – the Energy Act is coming into force in Scotland from April 2015 – and commercial landlords should be reacting now in a bid to minimise its impact and best position their portfolios to take advantage of increasing tenant demand for energy efficient properties. Given that environmental regulations are moving in one direction only, meeting the minimum requirements may also not be the best policy to adopt. To counteract this, Zurich is helping landlords to future-proof their portfolios by introducing new clauses for customers that enable them to actually improve the quality of the property and introduce new construction materials at the time of a loss, rather than simply reinstate what was there previously. And at policy level, Zurich is introducing new and improved policy wordings that can offer landlords the ability to meet the demands of legislation as they manage claims and losses. While acting just once before the 2018 deadline to rectify any EPC issues is also not advised, as this will restrict the ability of landlords to negotiate with incumbent tenants around the leases and the upgrades they may want to plan. In reality, though, much of the work required to improve the EPC rating of a building will not be overly extensive or expensive.


The UK government has introduced a ‘Green Deal’ scheme to allow landlords across the country to install a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades on their property through a loan scheme to pay for more costly upgrades, such as installing double-glazing that can cost thousands of pounds.
Repayments will be made through charges on the property’s electricity bill, whereby the cost of the loan taken out over the expected lifetime of the improvement, of up to 25 years, is no greater than the amount of the projected energy saving. Landlords need to be aware, however, that this scheme works well for them when the property is fully let, but the landlord will pick up the Green Deal repayment liability if the property is empty. Zurich has established the following ‘House Rules’ so that everyone can get the most out of the Insider website. Please note that these rules apply to the comments you post as well as other rich media content you may choose to submit such as pictures, video, audio clips, avatar images (your account image) and account name. Zurich Insider welcomes feedback both positive and negative about our content, but please ensure your comments are in line with the above House Rules. Biochar will be a part of an international strategy of global reduction of greenhouse emissions.
I argue practitioners will not only require their own self regulation but also need to respond to regulation by government through lobbying.
More broadly, the Federal Government will be regulators of a great many commercial environmental activities. Its introduction in 2015 will emphasise further the importance of some of the issues discussed here. Britain’s Climate Change architect Byrony Worthington3 describes the Australian Clean Energy Act 2011 as state-of-the art. Call this legislation inadequate, a milestone, or the random product of political wheelin’ and dealin’, its legal uptake will be in 2012, yet its effects begin immediately – in planning for corporations and for farmers. It will have long term effects even if, as discussed in the final paragraphs of this article, its opponents try to remove it.
However it is farmer’s income that I concentrate on because of the Biochar possibilities on farm.
In the new national legislation, large scale Biochar techniques can be applied beneficially to urban and industrial waste so we must think beyond agricultural applications which nevertheless are mainly those discussed here. However, those who see the Biochar will help their agricultural production will consider both its carbon reduction reward and its benefits for that agricultural production. The following processes qualify for the carbon reduction rewards of $23 per ton according to the Act. Necessarily, a scientific valuation of the carbon credit value that fits with each technique of carbon farming will eventually exist.
Biochar educators and practitioners are just two of many groups who want certainty and these include much more economically powerful players.
This is in the event of this incumbent government losing the elections due November 2013 (currently looking likely), and a repeal issued from a newly elected government.
Such matters are politically complex and value laden – a theory of mandate verses a theory of strict adherence to promises. The Act shows a Prime Minister and those with greenish intentions in a “wheelin’- dealin’” style, reaching compromises –those with reforming intentions can be much sillier than this. Now direct government investment seems back on the political agenda to put it mildly – (“you can bail out the banks how about anything else?”). A further $2 million through the CFI is being provided for a Biochar Capacity Building Program, which will provide farmers and land managers with a better understanding of biochar and its role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This decision was announced at the end of October as the outcome of a minor review of the key organisations that are supported by this agency. 4See has found that 34% of commercial properties for rent do not even currently have an EPC, which uses a grading system running from ‘A’ to ‘G’ to establish an energy efficiency rating. For instance, the EPC – which all landlords have been required to provide to tenants since 2008 – is revised from time to time and it will more than likely be harder to achieve higher EPC bands in the future. The type of lighting used in a retail unit, for example, can have a large impact on the EPC rating with tungsten and halogen fittings contributing heavily towards a poor energy performance. Practitioners will have to broaden their horizons to include science, economy, foreign affairs and trade. Biochar techniques and practices gain specific attention from the regulations connected to legislation for the reduction of greenhouse gases in the Clean Energy Act 20112. My comments concern the broader economic, environmental, scientific and regulatory frameworks for Biochar, subsequent to this Act’s passing.
By fixing the price of carbon, it resolves many of the European problems of the very low value the market has placed on carbon there (low valuation is also a problem here with what were called RECS4. It heralds ever more sweeping changes in 2015 and later I will indicate this has real potential to remain mostly in intact for the ETS. Biochar may be one touchstone of its value and success and the inability to others to ‘wind the legislation back’ as it addresses issues of food production just as our 7 billionth citizen is born.
The Carbon Farming Initiative Act 2011 mentions projects to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Of course, its capacity to enhance soil is a highly positive characteristic but in the trading model this is not considered other than saying that soil should be Biochar’s destination.
Yet, many of these other activities stated in the Carbon Farming Act will have this double edge.
Therefore conflict is almost inevitable in the rating and crediting of all these processes including Biochar, and scientists will determine such outcomes to some extent.


While CSIRO12 has research on Biochar that is extensive, the New Zealand investment will be repeated here.13 Further in the political sense the legislation in general may lead us to closer ties with New Zealand and Europe. Australia has a vital interest in making carbon abatement work against its largest- in- world, per- capita, carbon and other greenhouse pollution rates14 and the importance to some of its global good citizenship credentials. However, in the Senate (Australia’s Upper House), the Greens are still likely to hold the balance as only half the Senate faces re-election. The first step after dissolution would be a new election with the possibility that the election leaves the issue politically undecided or with ever more Greens in the Senate (5 will hold their seats for the next parliament as the Senators has 6 year terms). The Biochar Capacity Building Program will support research, on–ground demonstration of biochar and the development of offset methodologies to provide additional options for landholders to contribute to reducing Australia’s carbon pollution.
Hear from the former Australian Chair of the Millennium Project and learn about the state of the future.
Learn about how waste mass can be used to repair soil, enhance food output, and produce energy.
This eZine sees itself as having a slightly overlapping role with Craft Australia and was intending to establish this link after the first three issues. There are two arguments alleged for this decision: Craft Australia was too reliant on Government support and was not meeting the needs of the sector. Yet Biochar processes will change with this general recognition of its environmental role, the new legal regulation and subsequently by investment in it.
Further, the regulations (the legislative ‘small print’ if you like) will evolve to meet many unresolved and inevitably real-world complexities not included in the legislation.
Carbon pollution or equivalent is costed initially at $23 and slowly rises before trading begins. It therefore may be those wanting the dual effects of Biochar (on soil and sky) that choose to gain credits in this way.
So Biochar practitioners will have to demonstrate a very complex benefit to farmers as will these other competitors for farming investment.
It requires strategic assessment of economic processes and agricultural benefits as well as scientific determination of the calculations.
Of course, what the current Leader of the Opposition means by ‘spilling blood’ on this would be to force a double dissolution.
A Joint Sitting is the next step where it is conceivable the new government would still win as Lower House numbers are greater by a ratio of 2:1.
For this writer on the far urban fringe of an Australian capital city, with acquaintances with significant acreage, Carbon Farming is a great point of discussion about change. Biochar is a soil amendment that is produced by the burning of organic matter such as wood or crop waste in a low oxygen environment. It’s for those with their feet on the ground but with an eye to the sky (the common good) and for practitioners their own purse is at stake. That is not unusual but it will be especially evident in this legislation due to its breadth, making Biochar and other abatement programs almost continually ‘politicised’ or contended.
The Act will allow credit for schemes dating from 2007 when the Australian Labor Party was first elected with a mandate for carbon abatement. Of course, it may be desirable to mix several strategies, so ‘competition, isn’t really the right word. Australians are not only familiar but also wary of this course of action – based on a more generalised distrust of politics. Yet all that is a lot of political instability for a Leader of the Opposition on record as supporting some sort of Carbon Tax.
Biochar has the potential to mitigate Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions while benefiting agricultural production.
These changes are driven firstly by broad environmental, economic, political and social institutions and secondly, by the consequences of the legislation contained in the Clean Energy Act 2011. As the government and economy orient to the environment in projects,1 the Biochar practitioner bodies will face pressure for changes to processes of production and application of Biochar.
However as the natural environment really enters into all economic and government calculations with this Act we can expect a huge upsurge in interest in processes like Biochar including large scale investment and application. Perhaps, politically, ‘a bridge too far’ at a point where times will have changed, the fear of the green ogre diminished, and an ETS–the next step – just around the corner. Of course they may try to adapt on a one- to- one basis and negotiate with individual farmers and individually with governments. Since too, the Act gives out property as carbon credits, changing the legislation means withdrawing this –a legally doubtful possibility.
We shouldn’t ignore international factors nor local ones shaping Biochar practice nor ones important to farmers, commercial interests, educationalists and governments. More likely grass roots actions and collective action by practitioners will follow, but the changing environment encourages any organisation very strongly. Olympic Dam16 in Australia will mine more than a kilometre into the ground –open cut: just approved in the same parliament as the Clean Energy Act is passed the Lower House.



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