Leave agriculture out of emissions trading

Australia’s $29 billion-a-year agricultural industry should be charged for polluting rather than included in a carbon emissions trading scheme planned by the Australian government, an independent public policy research group said Nov. 3.

The Australia Institute said it was too hard to measure carbon emissions in the agriculture sector, making it difficult to include it in the emissions trading scheme.

“The whole point of an emissions trading scheme is accurate measurement of emissions of individual polluters in order to make them pay for what they emit,” said Hugh Saddler, the joint author of a report on agriculture and emissions trading.

“When it comes to agriculture it is neither possible nor efficient to accurately measure the emissions of a herd of cows or a paddock of wheat,” said Saddler.

Australia plans to start the trading scheme in July 2010 but does not intend to include agriculture until 2015 because of the problem of measurement of emissions in the sector.

Saddler said a levy on production would be a more effective way to reduce agricultural carbon emmissions.

“We have suggested a levy that would go into a fund which would be used on projects and programs within the agriculture sector…to do things that actually reduce their emissions,” said Saddler.

Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries considering including agriculture in carbon reduction schemes.

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