The Western Australian Government is the first government in Australia to create a tradeable legal right to offset carbon dioxide pollution by tree plantings, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Tony McRae, announced today.
Mr McRae said the Oil Mallee Company of Australia (OMC) had become the first company to take advantage of the new legislation.
Visitors from Japan joined Mr McRae, 40 farmers, industry representatives and community members at an official launch of the Carbon Rights and Plantation Agreement held at a large mallee property in WA, the Shields’ family farm, near Koorda in WA’s Wheatbelt.
“This legislation makes the creation of legally enforceable agreements for carbon dioxide trading,” Mr McRae said.
“Effectively carbon dioxide has become a commodity which can be bought and sold and will encourage the development of a major tree growing industry in the Wheatbelt based on the value of the carbon stored by mallee eucalypts.”
OMC chairman Professor Syd Shea said that as mallee trees grew, they absorbed carbon dioxide into the leaves, branches and their large root systems.
“Carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere can be claimed as a carbon credit and the credit traded to offset pollution Professor Shea said.
“Above-ground material can also be harvested for a variety of uses.”
The unique attributes of the mallee eucalypt have been recognised by Japan’s second largest power company whose representatives also attended the ceremony.
The company has worked with the OMC over the past five years to research and prove that mallees can create an efficient carbon sink. A 1,000ha trial was established in 2003 and has been highly successful. Interestingly, the power company supplied electricity to the Japanese city of Kyoto, which lends its name to the protocol on climate change.
An international market would allow sale of this credit to an ever-increasing trading network. Australia’s refusal to enter into the Kyoto Protocol results in Australia being locked out of this lucrative trade.
“Everything is in place for Wheatbelt WA to be a major dealer of carbon credits in the international market,” OMC director and farmer Ian Stanley said.
“We have proactive and supportive landowners, a fundamental need for planting trees to address issues such as salinity, a unique native tree crop, a very large land base and the latest technology for growing and measuring carbon sinks.”
Professor Shea said OMC’s existing clients had indicated they would establish up to 100,000ha of tree crops, representing an investment into WA of $400million.
“We have now pioneered the process of creating the first carbon right over planted trees in line with State legislation,” Professor Shea said.
“This process allows the legal creation of a ‘carbon credit’ for trading this new commodity.
“The only thing holding us back is the lack of progressive Federal Government policy and the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Akin to selling rice to China, we could be selling carbon credits to Kyoto!”
Tony McRae echoed Professor Shea’s sentiments, saying that the Federal Government was being left behind and too many of its MPs were still claiming that there were no such things as global warming or problems with greenhouse gases.
“The Gallop Government is protecting and enhancing WA’s unique environment,” Mr McRae said.
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