AS THE Clarence Valley's most likely first licensed carbon trader under the Federal Government's Carbon Farming Initiative, George Oxenbridge of Glenugie has devised a plan to bring the Northern Rivers about $70 million per year for the next 20 years.
The main thrust of his pilot plan is, rather than extracting the area's vast reserves of coal seam gas, to postpone the extraction for 100 years and in doing so prevent the carbon emissions that would have taken place if the area was mined.
Metgasco, the Northern Rivers' largest Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL)-holder, estimates there to be 2500 petajoules of gas locked in its PEL area.
When combusted, says Mr Oxenbridge, this would create 120 million tonnes of air pollution or carbon dioxide equivalent.
Dubbed the Northern Rivers Community Carbon Credits Project ( NRC³), revenue for the project is based on a $23 (per tonne) carbon credit price announced by the Prime Minister in 2011 with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
Mr Oxenbridge said he halved the Metgasco yield estimate when calculating the revenue in order to be conservative.
So, based on 61.6 million tonnes of avoided emissions (61.6 million carbon credits at $23 each) the total revenue for the plan is $1.417 billion which is to be distributed back to the communities of Northern NSW.
In order to prevent a flood of carbon credits on the market, Mr Oxenbridge has stretched the revenue distribution over 20 years with 5% of the total carbon credits available in the "bank" to be sold off each year starting in June this year when the emissions trading scheme is set to launch.
So, where does the money go?
In the NRC³ financial overview, Mr Oxenbridge divides the revenue up between:
- Local Government Areas (seven in the Northern Rivers) - 25%
- Local Aboriginal Land Councils (13 in the area) - 15%
- Local Renewable Energy Projects, Education and Research Grants - 20%
- Administration and Marketing Department - 10%
- Goods and Services Tax - 10%
- State Government Royalties (after June 30, 2017, 0 for first five years) - 10%
- Good Life Designs Pty Ltd (Mr Oxenbridge's company) - 5%
- Affected non-conventional gas (CSG) companies - 5% (receive 15% up to June 30, 2017 after agreeing to postpone gas exploration and production for next 100 years, 5% after this date).
Where is the plan at now?
Mr Oxenbridge and his wife Julie have been studying the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 for the best part of a year and are seeking grants from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to take the proposal further.
Mr Oxenbridge showed DEX emails of positive feedback from the department including an invi- tation to participate in the review of the Act which is set down to take place next year.
The correspondence indicated there was $40m available in the Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program and another $946m available in a different Biodiversity fund for the development of such projects.
Mr Oxenbridge said he addressed Clarence Valley Council with the plan in June and received a standing ovation, and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis had offered to help with a business plan.
As a builder and designer of solar passive design structures, Mr Oxenbridge has been a long-time advocate on environmental issues and a strong opponent of coal seam gas drilling.
"We can survive a total economic collapse with clean air, clean soil and clean water, but we can't survive an economic boom if we have fouled air, fouled water and fouled soil," he said.
DEX was unable to contact councillors or Metgasco over this issue on Friday.