Shanti Mors, South Pole's Sourcing Manager, talks through the opportunities in the Australian market to unlock nature-based carbon projects at scale.
As net zero targets around the world begin to hit home, the Taskforce for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets predicts the carbon market will grow significantly. Demand for quality carbon offsets from corporate buyers will rise fast in the next few years, meaning new climate action projects will need to be developed to generate the credits needed to increase supply.
Reaching net zero means more than reducing our carbon footprints and becoming carbon neutral; we also need to accelerate the implementation of new ways that can effectively take large volumes of carbon out of the atmosphere and then repurpose it or store it in the ground. So the global push for new carbon project development needs to focus on both avoidance and removal of carbon emissions.
While technological carbon removals such as carbon capture and storage or direct air capture will no doubt play an important role, we also need to look at what's right under our feet and all around us - the proven power of nature. Carbon projects that work within the natural ecosystem and carbon cycle, known as nature-based solutions, are a powerful tool that can rebalance our natural systems and help to decelerate climate change. Conserving, restoring, and managing forests, grasslands, and wetlands could provide around 37% of the GHG emission reductions required by 2030.
A spike in demand for carbon offsets, alongside an increasing preference for nature-based carbon removal, is Australia's chance to shine as the world's carbon farm.
Australia's unique landscape and resources make it ideal for the development of innovative, nature-based solutions to carbon challenges. Support for domestic carbon project development is growing exponentially as investors recognise the main Australian advantage: scale.
Australia has the third largest arable land surface in the world, a huge coastline, and plenty of sunshine. It's a perfect fit for carbon emissions avoidance and sequestration at scale. We can remove carbon from the atmosphere by locking it in our soil, forests, and wetlands, as well as avoid or reduce emissions by protecting our precious ecosystems.
Stunning farmland in Victoria, where we are seeing growing interest in carbon farming
Australia's natural resources mean that many types of carbon removal and emissions reduction projects can work well across a range of landscapes. Below are some of the project types we are seeing increasing interest in from both a development perspective and from corporate buyers of offsets:
As well as the carbon potential of our environment, Australia has significant biodiversity to protect which can also be financed by companies wishing to demonstrate commitment to the environment. Biodiversity credits protect native vegetation and wildlife and can be used to offset a company's land use activities. These credits reflect ecosystem improvements and can be “stapled" to other nature-based solution credits.
Opportunities exist in the Australian market for a range of stakeholders to benefit from new carbon project development.
Landholders and farm owners can benefit from establishing new carbon farming projects, implementing agriculture management activities that would improve productivity, and generating carbon credits as additional revenue. Carbon farming projects also offer the opportunity for the agricultural industry to be a leader in climate change solutions. New project opportunities can be developed with community benefits and carbon credit generation that far outway the impact of agricultural activities.
Ambitious and innovative companies with net zero targets could secure their carbon credit supply by investing directly in projects. Those who take the opportunity now to invest in the development of new projects will benefit from securing long-term access to carbon credits with better control over price. This is particularly attractive to companies in hard-to-abate sectors with large residual emissions footprints, such as construction, resources, or infrastructure. Of course, the additional benefit here is making a meaningful and tangible contribution to mitigating climate change.
Australia's potential to sequester carbon at scale is an exciting opportunity to show climate leadership. Carbon project development can play a significant role in supporting existing as well as new industries as we transition to large-scale carbon removal, avoidance, and reduction projects for decarbonisation of the global economy.
More than most countries in the world, Australia's environmental and carbon market conditions are ideal, so the time to act is now if your organisation wants to take this exciting step on its climate journey and take advantage of this huge growth opportunity.
Talk to the carbon project experts at South Pole. We've developed over 700 climate action projects around the world and delivered 100 million carbon credits.