Investment and innovation key to rural stake in low-pollution economy Media Release

Mar 02, 2011 - 3:30am

The Climate Institute today welcomed calls by Professor Ross Garnaut to give Australian farmers, communities and other landholders a real stake in the low-carbon-pollution economy, and drive investment and innovation in climate-friendly agriculture.

“Land-based emissions account for almost a quarter of Australia’s emissions, but landholders can play a powerful role in Australia’s mitigation effort with an effective industry development policy,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.

Professor Garnaut made some valuable suggestions for how to improve the Government’s proposed Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI).
Mr Jackson said that, with careful attention, the scheme could see country Australia delivering genuine pollution reductions, as well as a swag of other benefits for the environment, agriculture and communities.

Professor Garnaut’s recommendation to link pollution reduction in the rural sector to an emissions trading scheme was right on the mark, he said. 
“As Professor Garnaut argues, key to the scheme’s long-term success is a domestic price tag on pollution, and given that agriculture and forestry won’t be liable for their emissions, a way has to be found to drive investment and innovation in climate-friendly farming,” Mr Jackson said.

“Without a carbon price, the CFI will deliver meagre returns, demand for offsets will be low, and we just won’t see either the kind of broad landholder participation or the pollution reduction that will make the scheme a winner.”

Mr Jackson said that The Climate Institute agreed with Professor Garnaut that while safeguards are needed to ensure offsets mean real and lasting cuts in pollution, there is a case for more flexibility to enable producers to become more productive and profitable through cleaner farming practices.

“Importantly, with appropriate safeguards, real pollution reduction can be achieved in agriculture and other land-uses without undermining either clean energy development or Australia’s food security,” Mr Jackson said.

“Given how unfamiliar most landholders are with the carbon market, there is a good case for public investment in training, information support, including support for farmer-to-farmer assistance.”

Professor Garnaut today released the latest in a series of updates to his Climate Change Review—this time focusing on the role of Australia’s rural sector in avoiding dangerous climate change. 

For further information: 
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute |  0411 358 939
Harriet Binet | Communications Director, The Climate Institute |  02 8239 6299

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