Moving from emissions reductions to sequestration for savanna burning: trick or treat?

Thursday, 2 June 2016
Jeremy Dore

Five years ago there were no Indigenous carbon farming projects and land management businesses were few and far between. Now there are 17 Indigenous savanna burning projects in the north of Australia which have pulled in about $20m in carbon sales with a further $40m contracted under the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund.

This promising industry is likely to get a boost in the next year as savanna burning moves from emissions reduction (greenhouse smoke) to sequestration (more woodlands on the ground). This could double the carbon credits generated. However, moving to sequestration implies longer-term responsibilities attaching to the land. Just to get there, projects of all types will need to meet the higher tenure hurdles: consent from the carbon right holder and consent from any land interest holders (including native title).

This paper provides an update on the traps and tricks of this key transition: how will the states issue carbon rights on Crown land? Will it be a future act? How will projects negotiate consent from native title holders? Who will pay? And if the project goes bang, what will be the consequences for Indigenous landholders? Is this change a trick or a treat?