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Carbon farming is on-track

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Gillard's Carbon Farming Initiative promise at the last election doesn't seem to be hollow.

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Credit: sxc.hu

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The Federal government is following-through with one of its 'green' election promises - the establishment of a national carbon credits system.

The $46 million Carbon Farming Initiative would see landholders rewarded for sequestering carbon and reducing environmental degradation. During the election campaign, Gillard said this market could be worth $500 million over 10 years.

Earlier this week, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet announced a Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee to work out how the carbon credits will be measured.

"As we indicated during the election campaign, this will enable farmers, foresters and landholders to receive offset credits for actions that reduce or store carbon pollution," said Combet.

"These credits can then be sold, providing opportunities for them to generate income as Australia moves towards a low-pollution future."

The scheme would include reforestation, fire management, excess manure control and "legacy waste" emissions from landfill sites. Soil carbon and biochar will also be considered by the recently established Committee members.

The plan is to issue credits to farmers over time, depending on the growth of the forest and it's ability to store carbon. There would be no limit on the number of credits that a farmer would be able to make.

Landcare is expected to receive funds to help implement the initiative through education, and to help farmers pool their resources to create "carbon estates" with shared profits.

In July this year, a National Carbon Offsets Standard was introduced with rules for companies to become carbon neutral or sell carbon neutral products. This carbon farming initiative will ensure that the credits companies and individuals buy are measured and independently verified.

The initiative would also link farmers to brokers who understand the domestic and international carbon market. International credits have sold for up to $20 per tonne overseas.

"Once the credits are verified, they can be traded on Australia's voluntary carbon market and on overseas markets, generating revenue while reducing carbon pollution."

"The sooner we get these rigorous measures in place, the sooner investment opportunities and measures to abate carbon pollution will be available," said Combet.

The Integrity Committee includes environmental lawyer Duncan McGregor, offsets expert Rob Fowler, ecologist Dr J. Mark Dangerfield, scientist Professor Annette Cowie, the CSIRO's Dr Brian Keating, and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency's Shayleen Thompson.