4.2 The integrity standard

The business case for carbon farming: improving your farm’s sustainability

 
Ensuring the integrity of ERF activities and making sure that they genuinely contribute to a reduction in emissions require a number of conditions to be met. Together, those conditions make up a standard of offsets integrity. The integrity standards can be summarised as follows:
  • The additionality standard - The carbon farming activity and abatement must be additional to what would have taken place in the absence of the project. As explained above, this requirement is essential because it underpins confidence and the credibility of the scheme.
  • The measurability standard - The abatement must be measurable and verifiable. Without measurement, it would not be possible to issue ACCUs. ACCUs must be related to the precise quantity of greenhouse gases avoided or sequestered by the project. This amount must be verifiable, again to ensure confidence in the abatement achieved.
  • The science standard - The measurement must be supported by good peer-reviewed science and be consistent with Australia's international greenhouse accounts. The measurement of greenhouse gas abatement and sequestration on the land is scientifically complex and is based on a wide variety of mechanisms and biophysical processes, many of which have been revealed only through careful scientific study and measurement. Peer-reviewed science is the main means of understanding greenhouse processes on the land and is thus central to abatement under the ERF.
  • The leakage standard - The measurement methods must account for leakage. Leakage is an unintended increase in greenhouse gas emissions from an activity outside the project that occurs as a result of the project. It is often due to economic interactions between activities.
  • The variability standard - The measurement methods must account for variability and cyclical variations that may result from climate variations or management practices. Emissions avoidance or sequestration is not necessarily constant throughout the life of a project.
  • The conservative standard - The measurement methods must use conservative assumptions. Where assumptions are needed to establish measurements, the assumptions must be conservative and lean towards understating the abatement.
  • The permanence standard - Sequestration must be permanent. Carbon sequestered from the atmosphere must be permanently maintained where it is stored; otherwise, abatement will only be temporary and not genuinely permanent. Under the original CFI, sequestration projects were subject to a 100-year permanence obligation. The ERF allows an option for a 25-year permanence requirement.

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