Introduction to Carbon Credits - Workshop
by Liz Westbrooke

 

About twenty five or thirty people attended this workshop hosted by the Trust and the Community Board. Mr John Dentice from Kyoto Forests NZ spoke very clearly about the current state of emissions trading schemes and the politics that surround them.

He started by outlining some facts about global climate change – that it is now scientifically proven and that human activities are producing 60% more gas than the earth can absorb. With global population growth at 79 million per year and with higher standards of living in developing countries, the situation is continuing to escalate.

The Kyoto Agreement binds the OECD nations, including New Zealand, to 100% of their 1990 levels. Any emissions in excess of this means purchasing carbon credits (and our nation is not in credit – the current level is about 74m with the 1990 level 60m tonnes).

Almost 50% of New Zealand’s emissions are from agriculture (methane and nitrous oxide rather than carbon dioxide). A Carbon Credit is a piece of paper representing the offset to one tonne of gas. So we need to purchase about 14 million of these.

There are two methods of participation for a landowner:
• Growing production forests: these result in New Zealand units (NZU) and can only be traded domestically. They have to be offset when the timber is harvested if the forest is not replanted.
• Covenanting permanent forests: These earn internationally tradeable units (AAU) and may be differentially priced from those above.

Kyoto Forests NZ, the company John represents, is taking an innovative approach. They propose to combine small landowner credits (minimum of 50ha) and work with them on possible replanting, pest management, and / or manuka honey production. Depending on the suitability of the land for carbon credits (and its status in 1990), this can provide a good return.

John emphasised that it is early days, and that the situation is still evolving at the government and political levels. It was a worthwhile learning experience for us all with far more detail than can be represented here. The workshop was followed by a practical and informative site visit to the regenerating slopes of Ben Sanderson’s farm.