OFA Commentary 4909
Preparing to trade carbon credits
By Don McCabe, Vice-President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
December 3, 2009 - As the world looks for solutions to the growing amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, agriculture is an important part of the solution.
I will be attending the United Nations planning forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, next week as a Canadian Federation of Agriculture representative. The purpose of the international meeting is to find a replacement to the Kyoto.
The message from this Canadian farmer is that agriculture is 10 per cent of the problem, but can be 20 per cent of the solution if the policy is right. All farmers need strong global policy.
In Alberta, farmers are receiving recognition for their efforts in managing carbon. Roughly, 1.5 million tonnes of carbon credits from no-till soil management have been recognized up to the end of 2008, putting ten million dollars back in the pockets of those Alberta farmers.
With both the Ontario and Canadian governments looking at the potential of cap and trade market systems setting up as early as 2012, Ontario farmers need to develop processes that would help them participate in such markets. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is currently conducting a feasibility study to examine opportunities for Ontario farmers in a carbon trading system.
OFA has established a consultation schedule where farmers will be encouraged to attend and find out more about the potential of cap and trade market systems in their farming business. The consultations are intended to help identify opportunities and barriers influencing farmers’ participation in a carbon trading market.
Based on the input received at the consultation sessions, recommendations will be developed to overcome any obstacles identified by the study. The two-hour consultations will be open to all farmers and commodity organizations.
Funding for this project is coming from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food program as delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council in Ontario.
The consultation schedule, available on OFA’s website, has 12 locations across the province. The process began November 30 and ends December 9th.
Once farmers gain an understanding of their potential role in reducing carbon in the atmosphere, discussions will be held with regulated large emitters and other purchasers of carbon credits. A business model may then be developed for the aggregation of carbon credits generated by Ontario agriculture. Carbon is a commodity no different than corn or wheat.
Discussions at the consultation sessions will examine a number of topics: Are the principles for agriculture correct? What are the pros and cons of being an aggragator? What are the essential qualities of an aggregator?
Farmers participating in the consultations will be asked what information and what support tools they would need before making a commitment to get involved in the carbon trading system?
OFA sees the project unfolding over a period of a year, wrapping up by September 2010. We want to host a multi-commodity meeting to consider the issues, and we want to see a list of viable options to guide agriculture moving forward with the project.
Kim Turnbull, a farmer and chair of the Agricultural Adaptation Council, has said: “reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a concern for all Canadians, and it’s exciting that agriculture can be part of the solution to this global problem. We just need to determine how we can best make this work for Ontario farmers.”
The OFA is determined to make it work for farmers.