Carbon Farming Initiative
What is the Carbon Farming Initiative?
The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is a voluntary carbon offsets scheme. This Australian Government initiative allows farmers and land managers to earn carbon credits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (such as nitrous oxide and methane) and storing carbon in vegetation and soils through changes to agricultural and land management practices (also known as carbon farming).
These credits, known as Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), can be sold to individuals and businesses that want or need to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of their business operations. This can create additional income for Australian farmers and land managers who choose to take part in the initiative.
To participate in the CFI, people undertaking projects to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or store carbon in the landscape will need to use an approved methodology for their activity. These methodologies contain the detailed rules for implementing and monitoring specific carbon farming activities and generating carbon credits under the scheme. New methodologies and opportunities to participate are continually evolving.
The CFI is one of many government initiatives that contribute to Australia’s clean energy future. It is designed to help maintain and enhance ongoing productivity and profitability and protect Australia’s natural environment.
The CFI officially commenced on 8 December 2011 and since 2 April 2012 land managers have been able to apply to undertake CFI projects. To see how people are already taking part, please visit the Register of Offsets Projects.
Where do I go to find out more?
Various elements of the CFI, such as research, policy, participation and regulation are being managed by different Australian Government agencies. To help you find the information you are looking for, the list below briefly describes each agency’s role in the CFI.
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) is leading the Australian Government’s plan for securing a clean energy future and is directly responsible for the development of the carbon price legislation, the CFI legislation and supporting regulations. DCCEE is also responsible for developing the methodologies (detailed rules) for undertaking CFI projects and provides secretariat support to the independent Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee, which assesses these methodologies.
Clean Energy Regulator
The CFI is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator. The Clean Energy Regulator is responsible for approving participation in the CFI by individuals and entities, approving CFI projects, issuing ACCUs and managing the holding, transfer, retirement, relinquishment and cancellation of units through the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units. The Clean Energy Regulator is also responsible for educating stakeholders and participants on how to comply with the CFI rules.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
DAFF is responsible for funding innovative research and on–farm trials that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector and store carbon in the landscape, enhancing sustainable agricultural practices. Driving innovation in this space will help inform the development of methodologies for the CFI while helping Australian farmers and land managers adapt to climate change.
DAFF is also responsible for communicating information about the CFI and developments in land sector emissions management to farmers, land managers and their key influencers. Through targeted extension and outreach services, farmers and land managers will be equipped to make informed decisions about emissions management on their land and participating in the CFI.
DAFF is working with DCCEE and other stakeholders to develop CFI methodologies for different industries and regions.
DAFF supports the implementation of the CFI through the following:
Carbon Farming Futures Program
The Carbon Farming Futures Program is a component of the $1.7 billion Land Sector Package under the Clean Energy Future Plan. The program is providing $429 million from 2011–12 to 2016–17 to ensure that advances in technologies and techniques for emissions reduction and adaptation will lead to enhanced productivity and sustainable land use under a changing climate. These advances will allow farmers and land managers to benefit from the economic opportunities of the CFI while assisting Australia in achieving its long term emissions reduction targets.
DAFF is responsible for delivering four components of the Carbon Farming Futures Program:
- Filling the Research Gap – $201 million over six years to support research into new technologies and practices for farmers and land managers to reduce emissions and store carbon in the landscape. The program also funds a national survey to identify existing land management practices (see Land Management Practices Survey below).
- Action on the Ground – $99 million over six years to assist industry and farming groups test and apply research outcomes in real farming situations.
- Extension and Outreach – $64 million over six years to provide technical information and support to assist farmers, land managers and their key influencers to participate in land sector emissions management activities and the CFI.
- Conservation tillage refundable tax offset – $44 million over three years to provide a 15 per cent refundable tax offset for new eligible conservation tillage equipment installed between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2015, jointly delivered with the Australian Taxation Office.
Carbon Farming Initiative Communications Program
The CFI Communications Program is investing $4 million from 2011–12 to 2013–14 to provide farmers, land managers and their key influencers with credible, clear and consistent information on the CFI.
Part of the program provides targeted grants to each of the organisations hosting Regional Landcare Facilitators (RLFs) in the 56 Natural Resource Management regions. The RLFs work closely with farmers, Indigenous Australians and other land managers to identify how they can participate in and benefit from the opportunities created by the CFI and carbon farming.
The RLFs have been hosting numerous communication activities in their regions, including workshops, seminars, field days, static displays at agricultural events and roadshows. See what’s happening in your region.
Carbon Farming Initiative – Biochar Capacity Building Program
A further $2 million through the CFI is being provided for the Biochar Capacity Building Program from 2011–12 to 2013–14. The program is supporting research and on–ground demonstration of biochar to help develop practical options for farmers and land managers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon in the landscape.
This program complements and builds on research conducted under the Climate Change Research Program and is designed to inform the development of methodologies, providing additional options for farmers and land mangers to participate in the CFI and help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Land Management Practices Survey
In August 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted a Land Management Practices Survey for the 2011–12 reference period.
The survey is ongoing and will be conducted every two years. The primary purpose is to gather information about current on–farm management practices to identify and establish benchmarks for land management practices in the agriculture sector that have abatement potential under the CFI.
Data from the survey will be used by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) to undertake common practice additionality assessments for the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee. Only activities that go beyond common practice and are not required by law can be added to the Positive List. This list defines the eligible activities for the CFI.
Additionality is an important integrity principle for all offset schemes, including the CFI. Only emissions reductions that go beyond business as usual can be considered to be genuine offsets. The CFI additionality test ensures this by assessing whether the activity would be common practice within an industry and/or region without the added incentive provided by the CFI.
On 7 March 2012, ABARES released an overview of the proposed framework for the common practice additionality test. The framework draws on lessons learned from other schemes, academic literature and results of a preliminary mathematical analysis. The final framework was released on 15 August 2012.
A range of resources, including factsheets, case studies and videos, are now available on:
- research projects and outcomes
- on–farm trials
- extension and outreach providers
- grants funding.
For further information about carbon farming research, on–farm trials and opportunities for farmers and land managers to participate in the CFI, please continue to explore our website, phone 1800 156 858 or email.
18 Mar 2013