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Agriculture set to help Australia cut 135 million tonnes of carbon emissions

21 November 2017


The Clean Energy Regulator is pleased to see Australia’s agriculture sector officially recognised at the inaugural National Agriculture Day, Tuesday 21 November. The sector can take huge pride in knowing that, in the past twenty years, it has halved its greenhouse gas emissions. 

​​​​Clean Energy Regulator Chair David Parker said it’s well known that agriculture makes a massive contribution to our economy. It contributes $60 billion and supports 1.6 million jobs from the city to the bush, and exports from agriculture are forecast to increase by 8.3 per cent to a record $63.8 billion in 2016-17. 

“It is less well known that the agricultural sector plays a large role in reducing Australia’s emissions through the Emissions Reduction Fund – a voluntary scheme that sits under Australia’s climate change policies and provides participants with incentives for reducing emissions,” Mr Parker said.  

“In fact, almost 60 per cent of Emissions Reduction Fund projects are based in the land sector, and contracts worth more than $1.6 billion have been awarded for land sector projects since the $2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund began in 2015. These contracts will deliver an estimated 135 million tonnes of carbon abatement.”

The fund works by issuing Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) for every tonne of carbon emissions reduced or avoiding through the project’s activities. ACCUs can then be sold to the government under a contract or on the secondary carbon market. 

Mr Parker said there are ongoing opportunities for others to be involved, with more than $360 million still available in the Emissions Reduction Fund.

“The Emissions Reduction Fund provides an important alternative revenue stream for many farming families located in remote and regional Australia. For example, projects might include altering feed to reduce the amount of methane produced by cattle, or avoided clearing of vegetation to store carbon in plants as they grow. 

“We are seeing more and more take up of these systems in irrigation and on-farm processing, so it’s worthwhile thinking about the opportunities on your property,” Mr Parker said.  

To propose a new project using Emissions Reduction Fund methods—including activities like improving energy efficiency and storing carbon in forests and soilssee the Interactive Emissions Reduction Fund Questionnaire​. 

Key Emissions Reduction Fund focus on farming figures and results as outlined below.
Download this infographic

​​How can the agricultural sector get involved in reducing Australia’s emissions?


The Emissions Reduction Fund’s incentive-based approach supports participants to lower energy costs and increase productivity, while at the same time reducing Australia’s emissions.

One ACCU is earned for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) stored or avoided by a project. ACCUs can be sold to generate income, either to the government through a carbon abatement contract, or in the secondary market. Many emissions reduction activities deliver valuable co-benefits for businesses, farmers and the community. For example, businesses that install energy-efficient lighting and heating systems can benefit from lower energy bills. 

The Clean Energy Regulator website includes information about a range of methods that help businesses, communities and farmers to plan and undertake projects. For more information see Opportunities for the land sector​. Potential participants can also complete the Interactive Emissions Reduction Fund questionnaire to help decide the best project to suit their circumstances.

​The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme ​creates further opportunities for agriculture, providing financial incentives for participants to install renewable energy systems such as solar panels, small-scale wind systems, small-scale hydro systems, solar water heaters and air source heat pumps on their properties. Replacing electricity from non-renewable sources with a source of renewable power has the potential to reduce electricity costs as well as carbon emissions.​

Key Emissions Reduction Fund figures and results:

  • We have contracted 189 million tonnes of abatement for an average price of $11.83 per tonne of abatement. 
  • We have issued more than 40 million ACCUs since 2011, and more than 23 million of these have been delivered under contract. 
  • The agency currently has a portfolio of contracts worth more than $1.7 billion.
  • There is more than $300 million still available in the Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • The Clean Energy Regulator will hold a sixth Emissions Reduction Fund auction on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 December 2017.
  • We expect additional purchasing processes to occur in 2018.
  • The Clean Energy Re​gular publishes a carbon abatement statement and emissions position​ each month, which provides a snapshot of the fund and insights into some of the projects on the Emissions Reduction Fund project register, and an overview of the scheme to date.

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