New online tool to unlock carbon curiosity

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Launched at the 2022 Australian Farm Institute (AFI) Roundtable: ‘Cultivating ESG Capability’ in Canberra, a new online tool offers a practical resource for landowners and primary producers to navigate the tricky landscape of carbon choices.

The Carbon Opportunity Decision Support Tool forms part of AgriFutures Australia’s $2 million investment in carbon initiatives, designed to address key knowledge gaps and build understanding of carbon management, how farmers, growers and supply chain businesses can participate in carbon projects.

AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey said the investment aims to build producer capability to better understand the opportunities and risks in the increasingly complex but vital carbon space.

“Carbon is complex – understanding pathways is critical to success and AgriFutures has an important role in connecting rural industries to the latest insights so they can make informed decisions about their future,” said Mr Harvey.

“Investing in carbon RD&E is our commitment to providing new knowledge and supporting farmers to better understand the benefits and risks of carbon farming projects, including soil carbon and native vegetation management.”

The Carbon Opportunity Decision Support Tool, developed by the Australian Farm Institute, guides users through questions relating to risk appetite and their business goals.

The tool explains which carbon opportunities may be available for a producer and encourages users to consider the potential benefits and costs of different carbon projects for their farming businesses.

Opportunities covered in the tool include participation in the Australian Government’s Emission Reduction Fund or private carbon markets, access to sustainability linked loans and carbon neutral certification, as well as productivity gains.

Links are also provided to case studies and complementary resources such as the AgriFutures Australia Farmer’s handbook to on-farm carbon management.

With a lot of ‘noise’ about carbon opportunities, the key message of the tool is to know your options and make good choices, explained AFI Executive Director, Richard Heath.

“As an essential ingredient for agriculture, reinvesting carbon back into farming systems is a win-win. There are plenty of pathways for this, so it’s important to work out which one best fits your business’s goals, capabilities, strategic plans and risk appetite,” said Mr Heath.

Supporting Australian farmers and farm businesses to remain competitive in the context of the growing environmental, social and governance (ESG) conversation was one of the driving forces behind the tool’s development.

“Carbon markets are a useful tool in promoting and rewarding sequestration, but they are not the only option,” said Mr Heath.

“With sustainability reporting becoming mainstream, farmers will need to understand ‘insetting’ – keeping carbon credits to balance your own emissions ledger – as well as offset markets.

“And whatever you decide to do, remember that getting carbon back into your farming system is the ultimate goal.”

AgriFutures Australia’s carbon program has a strong producer and grower focus on building carbon knowledge, with projects set to deliver practical benefits throughout the agricultural supply chain.

“AgriFutures Australia is proud to be investing in a forward-thinking program of research that will help create a more sustainable future for the Australian agricultural sector,” said Mr Harvey.

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