Un­tapped WA wealth awaits

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Zach Relph

WA is in an strong po­si­tion to claim a ma­jor slice of Aus­tralia’s rapidly de­vel­op­ing $24 bil­lion car­bon farm­ing in­dus­try with un­tapped op­por­tu­nity across its pas­toral lands, a cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion group boss says.

Car­bon Mar­ket In­sti­tute gen­eral man­ager Brad Kerin out­lined car­bon farm­ing as an emerg­ing method to re­duce car­bon emis­sions within the State’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

A joint study led by Car­bon Mar­ket In­sti­tute, a not-for-profit which in­cludes oil and gas gi­ant Wood­side on its cor­po­rate mem­ber list, found car­bon farm­ing could em­ploy 21,000 peo­ple na­tion­ally by 2030. It also re­ported Aus­tralia’s rev­enue gen­er­ated from car­bon projects could bal­loon up to $24 bil­lion within the next 12 years, un­der the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s bid to re­duce emis­sions by at least 26 per cent by 2030 com­pared with 2005 lev­els.

Speak­ing from the side­lines at last Fri­day’s Op­por­tu­ni­ties for Car­bon Farm­ing in WA fo­rum in Perth, Mr Kerin said the State cur­rently held about 10 per cent of the coun­try’s car­bon in­dus­try.

How­ever, he said WA was well­po­si­tioned to se­cure a more size­able stake, cit­ing prospects across Gold­fields, Pil­bara, Murchi­son and Mid West pas­toral leases and also the agri­cul­tural re­gion.

“Car­bon farm­ing is an op­por­tu­nity for WA, as it is in other States, to de­velop jobs and rev­enue within re­mote com­mu­ni­ties across the State,” Mr Kerin said.

“With the 2030 path­way, there is cer­tainly the op­por­tu­nity for WA to in­crease its mar­ket share.”

The bullish out­look came as ap­pli­ca­tions for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment-backed eighth na­tional Emis­sions Re­duc­tion

Fund auc­tion closed on Fri­day. The fund’s sev­enth round de­liv­ered $47.5 mil­lion to 15 WA projects in June.

The com­mit­ment was an­nounced af­ter the McGowan Gov­ern­ment re­vealed in April it would sup­port a num­ber of pilot se­ques­tra­tion off­set projects by pas­toral­ists.

WA Agri­cul­tural Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan said car­bon farm­ing mea­sures could be in­te­grated within WA’s pas­toral re­gions to pro­mote pro­duc­tiv­ity from de­pleted range­lands.

“It is an op­por­tu­nity to ren­o­vate much of our lands and make us much more drought re­silient — this is an ex­tra­or­di­nary op­por­tu­nity,” she said. “We recog­nised the land needs re­ju­ve­na­tion and with­out car­bon farm­ing there sim­ply wouldn’t be the dol­lars for those pas­toral­ists to do the ren­o­va­tion.”

Mr Kerin iden­ti­fied Queens­land as the State lead­ing the charge on car­bon farm­ing and en­cour­aged the McGowan Gov­ern­ment to fol­low the An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk-headed gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach.

Ms MacTier­nan noted Queens­land’s pro­gress­ing sec­tor and said car­bon farm­ing in WA, in­clud­ing soil car­bon prac­tices, could pro­vide an eco­nomic in­jec­tion.

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