The role of factors that influence the adoption of the Australian Carbon Farming Initiative-Emissions Reduction Fund: a mixed methods study

Salas Castelo, Edison Marcelo (2017) The role of factors that influence the adoption of the Australian Carbon Farming Initiative-Emissions Reduction Fund: a mixed methods study. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The Australian government established the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) in 2011, and by 2014 it was merged into the newly introduced Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The aim of the CFI-ERF was to encourage the abatement of greenhouse gasses (GHG) from different sectors of the economy (e.g. energy efficiency, transport and the land sector), and to meet Australia's Kyoto Protocol (KP) emissions reduction target. The potential for GHG abatement in the Australian land sector (farming/agriculture and forestry) presents an excellent opportunity for the development of carbon farming projects while providing other crucial environmental/ecosystem benefits. This thesis investigates the role that demography, knowledge, motivation, capacity and barriers (DKMCB) play in the adoption of the CFI-ERF/carbon sequestratoin activities from an Australian landholders perspective. A methodological framework was developed to explore the influence of DKMCB factors on adopting the initiative. The study employed a mixed methods sequential explanatory research design which comprised two phases: a quantitative and a qualitative. The quantitative phase used a survey questionnaire addressed to landholders Australia wide: 214 participants completed the questionnaire. The qualitative phase used in-depth, semi-structured interviews targeting only adopters of the policy. Seven of thirteen adopters – identified through the survey form employed in the first phase – accepted the invitation to take part in the interviews.

Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory, proposed in 1962, provided the conceptual framing for this research. The DOI seeks to explain how and why intended adopters implement some new ideas and reject others. The DOI claims that the uptake of innovations, among other factors, depends on the demographic characteristics of the target population (e.g. age, gender, education level and occupation) and their networks, the features of the proposed innovation and the channels through which innovations are communicated. The quantitative results revealed that higher levels of knowledge about the CFI-ERF were associated with a decreased likelihood of adoption. Similarly, the higher the financial capacity landholders had, the less likely they were to adopt the initiative. Moral responsibility (to implement environmental practices), followed by economic return and availability of technical support were associated with an increased likelihood of adoption, while government regulations were associated with a reduction of the probability of adopting the CFI-ERF. The qualitative results showed that there were two main types of adopters: associated adopters (associated with carbon consulting enterprises) and independent adopters (implemented CFI-ERF projects independently). Associated adopters contribution to the study was not significant since Carbon Consulting Enterprises (CCE) did all the CFI adoption process. In the case of independent adopters, level of education and motivation had a strong influence on the decision of adopting the CFI-ERF. Environmental benefits of the application of CFI-ERF activities were strong motivations of adoption for all the informants. Economic return was not as an important motivation as frequently assumed in the literature. Costs and uncertainty (policy, carbon price, and project financial-viability uncertainty) were the strongest barriers to adopting the initiative.

This study contributes to the existing knowledge on diffusion research in the environmental field and particularly to research on the adoption of the CFI-ERF. The results of this study suggest the need to rethink the design of the CFI-ERF, the way carbon credits are traded, efficiently integrate environmental benefits (ecosystem services) in the pricing of ACCUs and improve communication strategies to better communicate the environmental/ecosystem benefits to potential adopters, since the results show that environmental benefits are the strongest motivation to adopt the CFI-ERF. Additionally, the methodological framework developed for this study, along with mixed methods research designs, present a practical approach to assessing the role that specific factors (i.e. demography, knowledge, motivation, capacity and barriers) play in the adoption of innovations in the environmental area, as well as in other disciplines, using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Item ID: 51804
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), carbon farming, carbon sequestration, Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), emissions reduction, greenhouse gasses
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 02:07
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050301 Carbon Sequestration Science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960302 Climate Change Mitigation Strategies @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
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