Canberras carbon trading scheme hit by court action

14th June 2007THE Federal Government’s proposed carbon trading scheme is on hold after court action by a farmer from the NSW Monaro who is seeking compensation for the “theft” of carbon credits because of land clearing restrictions.

Peter Spencer, of Shannons Flat, filed the action in the Federal Court on Tuesday and while not a class action, Mr Spencer will argue the government has stolen more than 70 million tonnes of carbon takings from farmers across Australia through clearing restrictions now recognised as the sole reason the government meets targets set under the Kyoto protocol.

Part of that action is an injunction to stop any further arrangements made by the Government on a carbon trading scheme until the matter is finalised.

The action will be heard in the Federal Court of Australia in Canberra next Thursday.

Last week Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, conceded it was the Federal Government which put a stop to land clearing across Australia so it could meet targets set under the Kyoto protocol.

The statement exploded the long-held assertion that State Governments had been the ones responsible for land clearing restrictions introduced across Australia from 1995 to improve soil health, water quality and biodiversity.

Mr Costello was interviewed on ABC’s 7.30 report last Wednesday by presenter, Kerry O’Brien, who said it was only thanks to land clearing that Australia was on track to meeting its Kyoto target.

Mr Costello replied that “stopping land clearing was a good thing” and went further to say “this was all designed to stop land clearing, and we stopped land clearing, and it’s helped us meet our Kyoto targets”.

“Australia is one of those countries that is on track because it actually did something quite positive, now that is stopping land clearing,” Mr Costello said.

He would not comment further on his statements.

Meanwhile, federal Agriculture Minister, Peter McGauran, yesterday announced a $2.25 million collaborative research program to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the farm by converting the methane in animal waste into energy.

Mr McGauran said methane was the dominant agricultural greenhouse gas in Australia and is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“Small reductions in methane production can potentially have a large impact on the effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Mr McGauran said.

He said agriculture accounted for about 15 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions, mostly through livestock and the use of fertilisers.