No one steals my "Meth"!

November 30, 2012 Louisa Kiely

They sound like drugs, but these “Meths” aren’t illicit, although they can cause brain-strain. Our Meths (methodology, or recipe for a carbon credits project) are about to change. For example, the compulsory forfeiture of intellectual property in carbon “meths” has finally been identified as a disincentive to involvement in the CFI (Glossary below.) by the DCCEE. It is one of a series of important shifts proposed in the new Draft Guidelines, out for consultation.

Intellectual property is covered in three places: 

  1. “You will retain all intellectual property rights in respect of your application, but you must agree to allow it to be copied, used and modified by DCCEE and others for the purpose of the CFI.” 
  2. “Acceptable justification would include that the information should not be published if it reveals, or could be capable of revealing: trade secrets; or any other matter having a commercial value that would be, or could reasonably be expected to be, destroyed or diminished if the information were disclosed.” 
  3. “If you have applied, or intend to apply for a patent concerning a methodology proposal, you should contact DCCEE before you submit a proposal.”

Positive List: “The activity must be included on the positive list before the methodology proposal can be assessed.“ (This creates a chicken-or-egg confusion with the Positive List guidelines released on October 2011 which tells us that the “Activity is covered by an approved methodology.” Which comes first? Positive List or Methodology?)

The difficulty a farmer would have in taking a Meth off the shelf and using it is blamed on the Language adopted for the submission: “It is important that language and instructions are clear and unambiguous.” The Devil is in the Detail: “This item must be sufficiently detailed to allow project proponents to successfully implement the proposed activity by following these instructions.“

Instead of making up your own terminology: “… many terms are defined in the CFI glossary, the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011and the Regulations. Refer to these documents before defining a new term.”

And a new challenge for those working on soil carbon: “The process for estimating abatement is divided into 5 parts: 4) Item 11.4 – Account for cyclical variation.” This means a meth is expected to take account of the background cycles of emissions and sequestration before applying a new land management regime. You can see what it means: new levels of complexity, new layers of measurement, new costs, new hoops to jump through. New reasons for disengagement among farmers.

But there is good news: There is a Soil Carbon Methodology about to be ratified by the VCS – the most important standard in the voluntary market. This will mean many things: 

  • We can start using it to design projects. 
  • We can adapt parts of it to use with our CFI meths. 
  • We can apply to the DOIC to have it recognised under the CFI.
DCCEE – Department of Climate Change and Energy Effciency.
CFI – Carbon Farming Initiative
DOIC – Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee
VCS – Verified Carbon Standard

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