Wine and the environment

Examining Innovative Policies to Sustain Environmental Offsets in Rural Communities

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Examining Innovative Policies to Sustain Environmental Offsets in Rural Communities

15 November 2021

Executive Summary

This report analyses innovative policies to sustain environmental offsets in rural Australian communities, with a focus on the Granite Belt region. We discuss current large-scale public policies—such as the National Landcare Program (NLP) and Climate Solution’s Fund (CSF)—and their short-comings before investigating new approaches. In particular, survey data and a field experiment framework are exploited to investigate the effect of information provision, and the source thereof, on the uptake of environmental offsetting practices. The uptake of such abatement procedures is not only vital in addressing the current climate emergency in Australia, but also in providing a more diversified portfolio for local agribusiness.

We find that while the source of information has no notable effect, there is evidence of a significant link between information provision and marginal investment changes at an aggregate level. Moreover, we find that this change in behaviour may significantly differ depending on the size of the agribusiness. While the data collected is specific to the Granite Belt community, there is scope to implement our experimental framework across a broader demographic. Further, our experimental findings motivate several policy recommendations going forward. We argue that the supply of business-specific information relating to new technology and practices may improve community-wide investment in environmental offsetting procedures. In providing this information, it is vital that both environmental and financial cost-benefit data is presented in a straightforward manner, with a particular emphasis on the financial benefits. Responsiveness may also be improved if the information supplied is endorsed by climate scientists or experts. Finally, we highlight the importance of easily accessible financial support and incentives alongside any information provision in future policy design. Together, the results of our experimental analysis and subsequent recommendations offer a crucial insight into the design of more efficient and sustainable policies going forward. This report therefore presents a roadmap for improving the uptake and resilience of small- and medium-sized Australian agribusiness owners who are currently impeded by restrictive policy.