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Carbon Neutrality

Carbon Neutrality

Running a carbon neutral farming business means that there is net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, the amount of carbon sequestered cancels out the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. This is achieved by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide produced and offsetting any outstanding emissions by sequestering carbon in the landscape.

to see where you stand in terms of carbon neutrality you can run a carbon audit of your property.

Carbon neutral = net zero = total carbon emissions less sinks and offsets

Climate neutral = zero temperature change caused by greenhouse gas emissions

Whether you want to be a carbon neutral farm or sell carbon credits, or both, you must have a history of measured emissions and soil test data. With ambitious net zero targets being set for the agriculture sector, and the likely possibility of carbon tariffs for global trade, it is becoming increasingly important to calculate the carbon emissions on farm.

Banks, and other parties that service agriculture are preparing for managing the risks of climate change and establishing programs to reduce emissions. Farm businesses that have a good understanding of their farm emissions will be better placed to respond to these external challenges and find new opportunities.

Carbon neutral certifications

There are a number of different private companies offering carbon neutral certifications and there are emerging branding opportunities for the labelling of carbon neutral food and fibre products which may in turn offer better prices.

Climate Active is an ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. A carbon neutral certification through Climate Active can be achieved by farms via either:

  • an organisation certification - which covers all the emissions arising as a result of business operations
  • through product certification (e.g. beef or eggs) - which encompasses the emissions generated from all the processes that make up the product over its life cycle.

This latter certification can be from a farm to plate or farm to gate basis.

To achieve certification, a farm would need to meet the requirements set out in the relevant Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard, such as:

  • Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations
  • Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Products and Service.

This process broadly involves the following steps:

  • filling out an application form, and entering into and maintaining a license agreement
  • calculating the emissions within your emissions boundary
  • developing and implementing an emissions reduction strategy
  • purchasing eligible carbon offsets to compensate for any remaining emissions
  • arranging independent validation of your carbon neutral claim
  • publishing a public disclosure statement of this claim.

The carbon accounting calculations can be undertaken by farmers if they have the relevant expertise, or through a consultant. There is no requirement for farmers to sequester carbon on-site.

Climate Active is currently piloting an approach that allows farmers to include the sequestration from existing tree plantings, such as shelterbelts, within their carbon account. This would be separate to the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), as ERF projects require plantings to be new.

More information can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website.