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Agriculture’s Role in the Low Emissions Technology Statement

Tue 06, Oct 2020


Agriculture’s Role in the Low Emissions Technology Statement

Late last month the Commonwealth Government released a report on how it proposes to address carbon emissions. This is a topic many members have expressed interest in, so I’m sharing the highlights. The report was titled Technology Investment Roadmap: First Low Emissions Technology Statement 2020. The positioning of the roadmap was in relation to investing in the next generation of energy technologies that will deliver lower emissions, lower costs and more jobs.

The Statement outlined five priority technologies and economic stretch goals to make new technologies as cost-effective as existing technologies. These were:

  • Hydrogen production under $2 per kilogram.
  • Long duration energy storage (6-8 hours or more) dispatched at less than $100 per MWh – this will enable reliable, firmed wind and solar at prices around the average wholesale electricity price of today.
  • Low carbon materials – low emissions steel production under $900 per tonne, low emissions aluminium under $2,700 per tonne.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – CO₂ compression, hub transport, and storage under $20 per tonne of CO₂.
  • Soil carbon measurement under $3 per hectare per year – a 90% reduction from today’s measurement costs that would transform the economics of soil carbon projects for Australian farmers.

It is worth focusing in on soil carbon sequestration as it relates to at least some of our AIA members, and impacts on Australian agriculture more broadly.

Australia has untapped potential as a globally significant source of carbon sequestration in our soils. Improving land management practices on a quarter of Australia’s crop and grazing lands could draw between 35 and 90 million tonnes of CO₂ per annum from the atmosphere while improving agricultural productivity and soil resilience. Carbon emissions offsets created by soil carbon projects (in agriculture) can provide a valuable additional revenue stream for farmers, and provide decarbonisation pathways for new and existing industries, which will preserve jobs. Increasing the soil carbon concentration (in the form of organic material) can improve farm productivity and crop yields through better nutrient and water retention, and boost resilience to drought and erosion.

Realising the sequestration potential of Australia’s soils would deliver positive economic outcomes and exploit a powerful competitive advantage for our nation and help position our agriculture sector to meet its aspiration to exceed $100 billion in farm-gate output by 2030. However, the current cost of accurately measuring changes in soil carbon is a barrier to widespread adoption of practices that would unlock soil carbon sequestration on a broad scale.

Some questions for members to consider in their advisory work are as follows:

  • Have you considered the opportunity for helping your clients to assess the potential revenues from on-farm soil carbon sequestration?
  • If so, what is the payback period for establishing a new on-farm production system?
  • In what other ways are your clients preparing for a low carbon economy? Are you getting the most appropriate advice to support you in your own work? How are you ensuring that your clients are getting access to the type of advice that will ensure they can make the best decisions on enterprise mixes that support their future in a low carbon economy?
  • What support could the AIA provide members to be better prepared to have conversations with their clients in relation to the opportunities that the technology roadmap offers?

Further Information

To see the official video of the roadmap release:

To find out what one of the Australia’s leading carbon farming groups are doing, see the following website:

For information on the Carbon Market Institute who are active in the carbon farming market place, see:


Turlough Guerin, CAg

AIA Chair


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