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Carbon-Storing Forest Clients Cautious Before Australian Laws

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Carbon Conscious Ltd., an Australian company that plants gum-trees to absorb greenhouse gas emissions, said customers are cautious in committing to programs to curb carbon output before climate laws are passed.

“There’s a whole lot of re-interest in the space but I think we really need the legislation to pass before we’ll start to see substantial movements from clients,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Balsarini said in a telephone interview yesterday. “It’s fair to say once bitten, twice shy, in terms of moving before the” laws are introduced.

BP Plc, Europe’s third-largest oil company, and Origin Energy Ltd. hired Perth-based Carbon Conscious in 2009 to plant as many as 40 million trees on less-arable farmland before Australia shelved climate-change laws in April 2010. Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised to restart efforts to tackle emissions when she replaced Kevin Rudd in June.

Gillard wants to set a carbon price for Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, starting in July 2012 before a trading system that may begin as early as 2015. The nation has set a target of generating 20 percent of its power from renewable sources including wind and solar by 2020.

Planting the mallee eucalypt trees will generate permits that will allow companies to reduce their liability under the proposed tax and will be tradable under the system that may begin in 2015, Balsarini said. The trees absorb and store emissions in their leaves, twigs and roots. About five are needed to absorb 1 metric ton of carbon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sharples in Melbourne at bsharples@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jane Lee in Kuala Lumpur at jalee@bloomberg.net

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