Speech to the 7th Carbon Farming Industry Forum

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the 7th Carbon Farming Industry Forum.

I am speaking to you from the land of the Cabrogal people and I acknowledge their elders and pay my respects to First Nations people across this great continent, including the Gimuy-walubarra yidi people.

Shortly after the election last year, I had the privilege of joining you as the new Minister for Climate Change and Energy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Australia’s carbon market.

In my address, I spoke to you about the key priorities on our climate and energy agenda.

In particular, our commitments to:
·        legislate our 43% emissions reduction target, as well as net zero by 2050
·        develop Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy
·        reform the Safeguard Mechanism, and
·        conduct an independent review of Australia’s carbon crediting scheme.

A year and a day later, we can look back and say that we’ve made good progress on each of those commitments.

Australia’s emissions reduction targets are now enshrined in law, giving industry and investors the certainty they need.

We have released our National Electric Vehicle Strategy, including a commitment to introduce Fuel Efficiency Standards, way overdue.

Australia’s largest emitters are now on a realistic path to net zero by 2050.

Our Safeguard reforms will cut over 200 million tonnes of emissions by 2030 – that’s the equivalent of taking two-thirds of the nation’s cars off the road.

And we are getting on with the job of implementing the Chubb review, restoring confidence in the integrity of our carbon crediting scheme.

We couldn’t have done these things without the support of Australia’s industries, businesses and the broader community.

The spirit of collaboration and commitment across all sectors has been phenomenal.

I thank CMI and other industry groups for your contribution.

We’ve done a lot, but there is a huge amount left to do. We are just getting started.

In a little over 5 weeks, the strengthened Safeguard Mechanism will be in operation.

Facilities covered by the Safeguard will need to cut emissions by 4.9% per year:

Facilities in the mining, manufacturing, transport, oil, gas and waste sectors.

With tailored treatment for trade-exposed facilities to manage competitiveness and carbon leakage.

Facilities can meet their obligations by reducing emissions onsite, and earn Safeguard Mechanism Credits if they beat their baselines.

Facilities that don’t reach their baselines can purchase those credits, or surrender Australian Carbon Credit Units, to offset their emissions.

Our reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism provide increased opportunities for farmers and land managers, including First Nations peoples, in creating demand for new ACCU projects.

The government is committed to supporting them to grasp these opportunities and develop new partnerships with businesses subject to the Safeguard Mechanism.

We’ve invested over $20 million in a new Carbon Farming Outreach Program.

I expect grants under the program to open soon.

The program will fund trusted and independent advisors to provide training and support to land holders across Australia, so that they can make informed decisions about participating in carbon markets.

You all appreciate how public confidence in the integrity of ACCUs and understanding the benefits of abatement projects is fundamental to the success of the carbon market.

The Chubb Review concluded that while ACCU scheme arrangements were sound, there were sensible changes we could and should make to strengthen the scheme.

The government has accepted in principle the review’s 16 recommendations, and while we’re only now 12 months into Government, and less than six months since Professor Chubb handed his review down, we’re already well underway with implementation.

We’ve put in place new governance and transparency arrangements that will facilitate the scheme’s broader reforms.

We are quickly implementing those recommendations we can do quickly – like the Clean Energy Regulator implementing a new audit program, to provide additional assurance Human Induced Regeneration projects are consistent with the Chubb review recommendation 8.

And legislating for the publication of carbon estimation area and important contextual data as set out in recommendation 4.1.

We’re now beginning consultation that will enable a second tranche of administrative and legislative changes later this year.

We need to and are implementing these recommendations with haste to ensure certainty for the sector and investors.

But we also aren’t skipping critical consultation on issues such as reforms to:
·        ensure Native Title consents are provided before projects are registered
·        create the new Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee, and
·        establish the new proponent-led method development process.

We are keen to ensure certainty in the sector and will be releasing a detailed implementation plan in coming weeks to take stock of progress and what’s next.

One of our immediate priorities is developing the new Savanna fire management method.

I appreciate the constructive approach you’ve taken to improving the method, which is now well advanced.

We will continue to work in partnership with you and others on the design.

We will also continue to develop the integrated farm and land management method.

I know many of you have ideas for new methods.

I encourage you to think about the evidence and information that will help the new integrity committee consider these ideas.

I hope you have the opportunity to consider some of these issues today.

Staff from my department are here to discuss them with you, and I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

I know the next two days will be busy, as you share new ideas and progress key actions in CMI’s Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap.