Alternative plan for reducing farm emissions needed Media Release

Nov 16, 2009 - 3:30pm

Government and Opposition now need to put forward an alternative strategy for reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint, following the decision to permanently exempt farmers from any liability under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), The Climate Institute said today.

“If it’s not going to be the CPRS, then Government and Opposition need to commit to an alternative that will reduce farm emissions, and ensure taxpayers and other businesses aren’t left carrying the burden,” said Corey Watts, The Climate Institute’s Regional Projects Manager.

“Farmers can and should be part of the solution to climate change, but this means addressing both sides of the carbon ledger – sinks as well as sources.”

Mr Watts said that, currently, the rural sector is the country’s second biggest source of carbon pollution after electricity.

“In the meantime, primary industries themselves should show how they are going to innovate and invest in climate-friendly farming, including committing to time-bound targets for reducing their emissions,” Mr Watts said.

Last month The Climate Institute released a discussion paper Towards Climate-Friendly Farming that explored several policy options for the rural sector. The paper included several proposals, chief among which are

  • From 2011, a new national Decade of Climate-Friendly Farming program and strategy, complete with resource support for farmers and time-bound targets for action.
  • An amendment to the CPRS legislation to extend current “green carbon” forestry provisions and allow landholders to be rewarded for any credible, measurable and internationally compliant sequestration activity; while ensuring land clearing  is properly regulated and priced, and carbon forestry benefits landscapes.
  • No later than 2013, the introduction of a package of measures – either emissions trading, alternative measures such as levies and regulations, or some mix of these - to  send strong and clear price signals to agriculture to invest and innovate, and  contribute its fair share to national emissions targets.

The 2008 Garnaut Review singled out Australian agriculture as the sector likely to be hit hardest by climate change.

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