National carbon auction nets millions for WA pastoralists

The Western Australian rangelands will benefit from a significant proportion of contracts in the latest auction round of the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

“Today’s announcement will provide the chance for WA pastoralists to diversify their income and secure their livelihoods, whilst also regenerating areas of bush spread across millions of hectares of WA’s Outback,” said Suzannah Macbeth, spokesperson for conservation alliance Partnership for the Outback.

The latest auction round amounted to $45m worth of carbon contracts issued to 36 carbon projects around Australia, with Western Australia securing nearly two thirds of the contracts. 20 of these will take place on WA pastoral leases. This equates to $12.8m in carbon contracts flowing to the WA rangelands over the next 10 years.

“When combined with the results of the first round of auctions open to WA pastoral leaseholders in June this year, there’s now around $60 million in carbon contracts waiting to flow into the Western Australian Outback over the next 10 years,” Ms Macbeth said.

“However, for leaseholders to finally be able to access the income and regeneration benefits already enjoyed by other states, the WA Government must move quickly to meet their April 2019 deadline to finalise their carbon farming policy and ensure these contracted projects can proceed.”

The ERF is the federal government’s $2.55b carbon market which has so far contracted 193m tonnes of carbon abatement and issued $2.3b worth of carbon contracts, mainly in the land sector. 

Carbon farming is the commercial business of allowing and encouraging native bush to regrow, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere so that it is stored in plants and soil. This generates carbon credits that can be sold on national and international markets. Benefits of carbon farming for the Outback include:

  • Growing back native bush to regenerate degraded landscapes and restore productivity
  • Diversification opportunities and extra income for existing pastoral businesses, leading to new jobs, enabling more people to live and work in WA’s Outback
  • Helping to address the major problems identified in last year’s Auditor General’s report which found that pastoral lands have been declining in health for over 75 years.

Already established in states such as NSW, carbon farming has created jobs in regional and remote areas while regenerating degraded landscapes at little cost to government. Pastoral leases occupy one third of WA and take in some of our most iconic landscapes, from the Kimberley to the Nullarbor.

“Finally bringing some of the ERF money into WA’s rangelands during 2018 – thanks to a long-running struggle by pastoralists and conservation organisations – signals the start of what could be the biggest land regeneration project in Australia’s history,” concluded Ms Macbeth.

Our Outback is an amazing place, but what makes it special is at risk. 

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