Has Paris got it wrong?
By Neville Passmore
While climate negotiators from 195 nations struggle to come to an agreement at the United Nations Paris Climate Conference today, I ask the question - are we on the right track?
Essentially the world is seeking to limit and ultimately reduce, emissions from the burning of fossil fuel. However nearly 25% of global CO2 emissions results from the loss of humus from soil, this is the largest single contributor to the problem. Agriculture could be the saviour, if we can change practices so that every year farmers build more carbon into their soils. The solution is indeed beneath our feet. Other benefits that flow from this soil carbon solution include increasing soil fertility as well as water and food security.
Thirty per cent of CO2 emissions can be countered by humus building in the top 20 centimetres of soil!
The most significant job for this generation is to restore the carbon cycle by bringing carbon back into soil.
As a country Australia needs to build soil restoration into our DNA. As such we would be an example for the rest of the world. Already we have some outstanding examples that can be accessed through the Soils for Life website and the work of Major General Michael Jeffery.
I am right behind emission controls but believe these alone cannot do the job. I reckon we need to put a price on carbon, which would add to the costs of burning fossil fuels on one hand and then reward farmers and all those that work the land, with carbon credit dollars for increasing the useable soil carbon they add to the properties they manage.
I am heartened by a reply received from Environment Minister Greg Hunt when invited to a celebration of World Soil Day at C-Wise last week. “Apologies but I will be unable to make it as I am involved in the Paris climate conference.
However I am delighted to say that Australia has signed up to the global soil carbon initiative and that I was able to speak as one of the keynote speakers on behalf of the soil carbon achievements in Australia.”