Climate change plan gives Australian food and farming a chance to lead Media Release

Jul 12, 2011 - 1:00pm

The Climate Institute (TCI) has welcomed the rural and regional package in the Government’s Climate Change Plan, saying it gives agriculture a crucial ‘period of grace’ in which get on the front foot and lead the shift to a low-pollution economy.

“Australian farmers now have a good head start, funds and incentives for innovation and efficiency, and the chance to sell climate solutions to Australian companies and the world,” said TCI’s Regional Projects Manager, Corey Watts.

The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) will enable landholders to sell carbon credits derived from diverse investments in new practices that cut their emissions and store carbon on the land.

Mr Watts said it was particularly good to see that the Government had pledged to use $1.7 billion of pollution price revenue from Australia’s 500 largest industrial emitters into carbon farming research, development, training and extension services, environmental stewardship and soil carbon, and cleaner, more efficient energy for food processing.

“A carbon price means potentially five hundred polluting firms will be paying landholders for solutions to climate change,” said Mr Watts.
Mr Watts said that while the rural sector is a major source of the country’s emissions, it has the chance to play a powerful role in Australia’s mitigation effort.

“Importantly, this package will see farmers taking control of their emissions. Not drought, not government regulation, not commodity markets, but farmers.”

Australia’s farming and food industries face some new realities in the twenty-first century, amongst them are farmers’ high exposure to a changing climate and the fact that governments the world over are pricing industrial pollution.

According to Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency estimates, the Carbon Farming Initiative could cut land sector emissions by more than 10 per cent by 2020—a modest but crucial start, representing a substantial new investment in rural Australia.

Mr Watts said that global demand for Australian food and fibre shows no sign of tapering off, and Australian agriculture boasts a proven ingenuity and capacity to adapt to change.

Despite claims that food and farm sectors would be hit hard, industry and government economic forecasters alike see agriculture’s economic performance of growing strongly, even with a price on pollution.

But he warned that a new industrial revolution was getting underway, one based on doing more with less.

“Unless Australia’s food and farming industries are on board,” Mr Watts said, “they risk being left behind. A failure to price pollution now would expose rural businesses to lingering and unnecessary risk and uncertainty.”

For further information (and comment): 
Corey Watts | Regional Projects Manager, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039

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