Fair Carbon

Fair Carbon workshop

Have you ever bought a Fairtrade coffee with its comforting green and blue swirl?

As a non-coffee drinker I certainly haven’t, but its still an idea we want to explore for Aboriginal carbon projects in Australia.

So we put on a workshop in Melbourne on 30 January 2014.

Participants drawing their stories at the Fair Carbon workshop

Participants drawing their stories at the Fair Carbon workshop

There’s been a couple of papers on co-benefits already, canvassing options for co-benefits criteria and whether we need a standard tailored to Australian conditions. Co-benefits is just about the extra social and environmental benefits that a project can generate in addition to carbon.

Luckily, the sector seemed ripe for such a workshop and we received a good response from the paper authors, from corporate sustainability managers and key Indigenous groups.

At the workshop, we wanted to take the idea of co-benefits a bit further to the idea of Fair Carbon – it’s not just about the extra benefits but about a fair trading system: what’s are the terms of trade? In uncertain times can we have a minimum price? Can long term relationships smooth out an uncertain market? All wrapped up in a nice little standard.

We primed the day well, with a climate update from Tim Flannery, Climate Council, a history of Aboriginal Carbon Fund from co-founder and director Allan Cooney, building wealth for native title holders by Brian Wyatt, National Native Title Council, a corporate perspective on credit buying from Emma Herd, Westpac, thought provoking co-benefits thoughts from Cathy Robinson, CSIRO and the latest on the international scene from Neil Salisbury, Net Balance.

This of course didn’t resolve all the tricky bits so we broke into groups to get stuck into challenges, ideal outcomes, co-benefits criteria and the toughest nut of all: how to govern the system with integrity and reasonable cost.

The experiences of others show that if you don’t get the balance right, you will not get the take-up and buy-in you might imagine. How do you get a company to pay more than they have to for a product?

Fun day. Good people. We are working on a workshop report so more to come!