Originally published in The Conversation on July 9, 2013

In debates about climate change and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, there is a widely-held belief that market mechanisms, like the Labor government’s carbon pricing scheme, will reduce emissions in the cheapest possible way. As a matter of pure theory, this is correct but, in practice, it depends on what is included and excluded from the scheme and how it is designed.

One of the most commonly overlooked sources of carbon abatement is public native forestry, which is currently excluded from the carbon pricing scheme and the government’s offset scheme, the Carbon Farming Initiative. This is despite the fact that stopping the harvesting of public native forests is one of the cheapest ways to reduce Australia’s emissions.

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