ERF brings benefits for farmers

By The Department of the Environment and Energy

Farmers and landholders across Australia are seeing the benefits from their Emission Reduction Fund projects. The projects are providing new opportunities to increase land productivity and generate revenue by earning credits for reducing greenhouse gases.

People participating in the Emissions Reduction Fund are undertaking a wide range of projects. For example, piggeries are capturing methane produced by the livestock’s waste, and flaring it to convert the gas to carbon dioxide, a less potent greenhouse gas when released into the atmosphere.

Farmers are planting trees in unproductive paddocks, and landholders are storing carbon in their soil. Money is being saved thanks to lower energy bills, water quality is improving, and soil productivity is increasing.

By changing business practices to improve productivity or energy use, farmers can reduce emissions and earn carbon credits.

The Australian Farm Institute estimates $239 million a year over seven years is flowing to the land sector.

Under the Emissions Reduction Fund, farmers receive one Australian Carbon Credit Unit for each tonne of carbon that is stored in trees or soil, or avoided by a change in farm activities. Each credit may be sold to the government, through a contract, or to a private company. The average price paid by the government for a carbon credit is $11.83.

The opportunity to reduce emissions by making changes to energy consumption and use is providing a great incentive for farmers to take part in the Emission Reduction Fund.

Lucinda Corrigan from Farmers for Climate Action, who have joined with National Farmers Federation, said:

“Our members are interested in everything from how farmers can take part in the current Emissions Reduction Fund, to how we can attract more investment to innovate in adaptation and mitigation, as well as the opportunities that renewable energy represents for farmers and regional communities.”

In addition to the vegetation and agriculture projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund, landowners can participate in other emissions reduction activities. By investing in new technology, upgrading equipment or changing business practices to improve the productivity or energy use, farmers can reduce emissions and earn carbon credits.

The Australian Government committed $2.55 billion to purchase emissions reductions. Five auctions have been held so far, resulting in 435 projects securing carbon abatement contracts with the Government, to deliver 189 million carbon credits. This is effectively avoiding 189 million tonnes of emissions from entering the atmosphere and helping Australia meet its 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets. More than $300 million remains in the fund to purchase further abatement.

Landowners can also participate in the Renewable Energy Target. The Renewable Energy Target encourages additional electricity generation from renewable energy sources and provides a financial incentive for investment in new renewable energy projects by small businesses.

For more information on the Emissions Reduction Fund and the Renewable Energy Target, go to www.environment.gov.au.

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