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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2006) 51(1): 10–18
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Trading of sequestered carbon - an Australian perspective

N. O'Brien and M. Meizlish

Carbon trading has emerged as a market-based mechanism that enables greenhouse gas emission reductions to be implemented at least cost. While Australia has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, it is likely to meet its nominal commitment under the protocol for the first commitment period (2008-2012), due to an expansion of the plantation estate and a decrease in land clearing since 1990. The country has emerged as a leader in developing markets for carbon trading, which have involved forestry projects that encourage reforestation on agricultural lands. There are several key aspects that significantly affect the participation by the forest sector in these schemes. Emissions in New Zealand currently exceed its commitment level under the Kyoto Protocol (zero increase over 1990 levels). New Zealand has ratified the Protocol, and as such the commitment is legally binding. The emissions profile within New Zealand is strongly influenced by activity within the forestry sector. Experience from carbon trading activity in Australia indicates that New Zealand may be able to employ an emissions trading scheme and other market-based mechanisms to encourage investment in the forestry sector, contributing towards the country’s Kyoto commitment. In particular, a carbon trading scheme in New Zealand needs to facilitate the replanting of sites after harvest on Kyoto compatible land, minimize deforestation on non-Kyoto compatible land and encourage reforestation of cleared agricultural land.
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