Three big corporate companies have formed an unusual alliance to test out carbon farming in Western Australia.
Japanese oil and gas company Inpex has signed a deal with Qantas and ANZ to collaborate on a biofuels project in the WA wheatbelt.
The trio of companies want to partner with farmers to plant trees on marginal cropping country.
For a start, those trees would generate carbon credits, but later they could be harvested to produce biofuel.
After completing an initial assessment, the trio are now ready to undertake a more detailed study into the harvesting and processing of native biomass crops and selected agricultural waste residues, to produce low-carbon renewable biofuels.
The project aims to integrate existing farms to support reforestation and decarbonization using drought-resilient native tree crops.
It would see "marginal farming land" replanted with drought-resistant native plant species to generate Australian carbon credits to help offset the three companies' future carbon footprints.
Longer term, it would also create a potential source for sustainable aviation fuel production from cut back Mallee trees.
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The first native trees would be planted next winter "subject to the completion a comprehensive engagement process with stakeholders".
It is understood their plans do not involve buying farms.
The companies aim to strike partnership deals with farmers and rural communities "as a priority".
They claim carbon farming will diversify local economies, provide local jobs and infrastructure investment.
Inpex president and chief executive Takayuki Ueda said the project would help achieve his company's sustainable development goals.
Inpex has been a major investor in Australia with a big production facility in Darwin processing liquified natural gas from the offshore Ichthys field.
ANZ chief executive officer Shayne Elliott said: "We're looking forward to working closely with landowners and rural communities, many of whom are our customers, on this important project aimed at supporting the future economy of the wheatbelt and its community.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the project aimed to develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry.
Qantas has committed $50 million towards creating an Australian-based biofuel industry.
"This partnership ticks a lot of boxes, it's supporting the environment in an iconic part of the Australian landscape, creating carbon credits, and potentially contributing to a future domestic aviation fuel industry with all of the jobs and opportunities that will come with that."
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