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US approach to climate change policy and agriculture

- Friday, May 15, 2009

At the Agriculture, Greenhouse and Emissions Trading conference, delegates heard that in the USA, agriculture and forestry offsets will be the oil that enables an emissions trading scheme to run smoothly.

This is according to David Miller, Director of Research and Commodity Services for the Iowa Farm Bureau. The United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and as such emissions trading schemes established there are voluntary, though the emission reduction targets contracted by companies or individuals when entering the voluntary market are legally binding. In Australia, the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is Kyoto compliant, so is bound by the accounting rules associated with the Protocol.

The Iowa Farm Bureau established the first licensed aggregator of carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange which is North America’s only voluntary cap and trade scheme covering all six greenhouse gases. Today the Iowa Farm Bureau handles about 6 million carbon credits annually through its entity AgraGate.

The United States has many regional initiatives already in operation such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the West Coast Initiative (WCI) and the Midwest GHG Accord .  

According to David Miller, as the carbon market matures, more opportunities will emerge for agriculture and forestry. Protocols for no-till, rangeland and afforestation management have been developed and implemented under the Chicago Climate Exchange, which has allowed the farm sector to learn by doing. Today over 9,000 landowners are involved across 35 states. David Miller suggests that under the proposed cap and trade emissions trading scheme in the US there will be a threshold like that suggested under the Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which will result in less than 2 per cent of American farms being included. Despite offsets reducing the overall cost of a trading scheme, David says shots have been fired at agriculture and forestry offsets because there’s skepticism that they should be included and questions over whether there should be separate systems established for these offsets.

There are some interesting points made regarding the United States’ climate change policy on this site, which expand on the views David Miller expressed at the Conference.

What are your thoughts on the US approach to climate change policy and agriculture?

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