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Future Options for Carbon Management in Deserts. Craig James General Manager Commercialisation and Communications, Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, Alice Springs, Australia ABARE Conference Alice Springs 29 October 2008. Australia’s deserts. Australia is

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future options for carbon management in deserts
Future Options for Carbon Management in Deserts

Craig James

General Manager Commercialisation and Communications,

Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre,

Alice Springs, Australia

ABARE Conference Alice Springs

29 October 2008

australia s deserts
Australia’s deserts
  • Australia is
    • driest inhabited continent in the world
    • 70% of it is either arid or semi arid land.
  • ‘Deserts’ consist of
    • Arid zones - average rainfall of 250 mm or less
    • semi arid zone - average rainfall between 250-350 mm.
  • Little is known about the carbon cycle in the Australian deserts

Arid and semi-arid areas

projected climate changes
Projected climate changes

Predicted percentage change in annual

rainfall by 2050, with respect to 1990 levels

Trends in annual maximum, mean and minimum temperature 1910-2002

national and international setting
Kyoto Protocol

Garnaut report

Green Paper: Investing in research and development on low emissions technologies

Government financial investments ($1.89B)

Australia’s National Carbon Accounting system (NCAS):

“system to account for greenhouse emissions from land-based sectors” (Garnaut 2008)

Grass roots movements

50/50 by 20/20

Community owned wind farms

National and international setting
how can deserts position for a carbon economy

Deferring greenhouse gas (GHG) release

Reducing net CO2 release from fuels (biofuels)

Producing green energy

How can deserts position for a carbon economy?
1 bio sequestration
Growing carbon ‘hungry’ plants through irrigation

Possible with suitable ground water resources but limited.

Economically uncompetitive (?)

1. Bio-sequestration

Source: Department for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts

1 bio sequestration1
Carbon storage in soils, plants and dead or decaying matter

Encourage long-lived perennial plants growing on natural rainfall

A new view of the woody weed problem in historically-overgrazed lands

Low growth rates

Low carbon / ha but orders of

magnitude more hectares

Economics unknown

1. Bio-sequestration
2 deferring ghg release
Fire and Pastoral land management

Sequester carbon (stock) or change emission regimes

Value in these as off-sets

2. Deferring GHG release

Photo courtesy Dick Kimber

fire management
West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project

Changes in fire regimes to lower emissions and store more carbon

WA study to commence

Pilbara region. Arid regions have carbon sequestration potential (Alchin 2007)

Need to evaluate options for rangeland management (eg Heckbert 2008)

More accurate information of rangeland carbon storage and sink potential needed

Fire management

Photo courtesy CSIRO

strategies for carbon grazing
Vegetation recovery under lighter grazing regimes to increase stored carbon in perennial vegetation

More stored soil carbon

Rotational grazing could achieve these goals

Does extra infrastructure create more CO2 than is saved?

Cost/benefits are unclear

Strategies for carbon grazing
pastoral management systems
Telemetry technologies bring management data and control of equipment into the homestead.

Less need to drive around – half the number of km per year on bore runs

10,000 km not driven = 3300kg of CO2

3,000 km not driven = 990 kg of CO2

Savings of $25,000-$35,000 in fuel costs

Pastoral management systems
3 biofuels
Transport fuels

Power generation (back-up to solar, wind)

Creating biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels

Use ground water resources to grow perennial vegetation

Harvest biomass to make biofuels (seed oil etc)

Renewable local production instead of non-renewable fossil sources

Already being explored by DAFWA

SA Farmers Federation guarantee pure bio-diesel 100% carbon neutral.

planting of native mallee trees which soak up carbon dioxide as they grow, acting as a "carbon sink". www.farmersfuel.com.au

3. Biofuels
exploratory studies
CSIRO Reports findings

The cost of producing biofuels relative to petrol and diesel is the fundamental factor influencing the commercial viability of biofuels

Sustainability is a critical issue for the biofuels industry - there is no point in replacing one unsustainable system with another

Department of Rural Industries, Research and Development Corporation: Biofuels in Australia – an overview of issues and prospects June 2007

Exploratory studies
Central Australian Geothermal Energy Province, with connections into South Australia and Queensland and connecting the national gridGeothermal

Source: Geodynamics. IRM Company ShowPage