Oct 21, 2009 - 9:30am
The Independent Climate Institute today described as “short-sighted and high risk” approaches to agriculture and carbon pollution that accepted rewards for abatement but not responsibilities for emissions.
The comments came as the Coalition and many farming groups called for the blanket exemption of agricultural emissions from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) while seeking to maximise offset opportunities.
“With the rural sector accounting for 25 percent of Australia’s emissions, just seeking exemptions for agriculture is a short-sighted and high risk strategy,” said Regional Projects Manager, Corey Watts.
“The question the Coalition and the farm lobby must answer is: If not the CPRS, then what? How are they going to ensure farmers are geared up for a low-carbon economy? What’s more, if agriculture doesn’t do its fair share to meet national emissions targets, it leaves other sectors shouldering the burden,” Mr Watts said.
The Business Council of Australia has already called for uncovered sectors, such as agriculture which, together with land clearing, is responsible for one quarter of national emissions, to be exposed to “policies which ensure commensurate reductions.”
Mr Watts said that while Australian farmers should certainly be rewarded for building up credible, measurable carbon stocks on the land, reducing farm emissions at their source was crucial to competing in a low-carbon world.
He said that while some people on the land were clearly on top of the risks of climate change, the sector as a whole was far from ready for the inevitable low-carbon future.
“We’ve called for an approach that combines both carbon rewards and responsibilities, and, through a ‘Decade of Climate-Friendly Farming’, helps farmers adapt to change, and places Australian agriculture as a leader in a low-carbon world,” he said.
Last week The Climate Institute released a Discussion Paper - Towards Climate-Friendly Farming – which outlines the case for stronger climate action in agriculture, and canvasses policy options to help the rural sector get on top of the risks and opportunities.
For more information on agriculture's role in climate change and a discussion of possible policy strategies, see The Climate Institute's discussion paper Towards Climate-Friendly Farming at www.climateinstitute.org.au.