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Farmers warn unlimited carbon offsets will set ‘dangerous precedent’

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Farmers warn unlimited carbon offsets will set ‘dangerous precedent’

A debate is raging over what position carbon offsets and agriculture will play as Australia offers with the sophisticated process of decreasing greenhouse fuel emissions.

Farmers are involved the federal authorities’s plan to cut back the emissions of large polluters would rely too closely on carbon credit from measures corresponding to tree planting.

Victorian cattle breeder Olivia Lawson mentioned she was involved the coverage would not do sufficient to decelerate local weather change and will have unintended penalties for agriculture.

“I feel there’s some inequity there the place agriculture is being relied upon to prop up the heavy emitters and I do not see that that is going to be a long-term viable resolution to mitigating towards local weather change and emissions,” she mentioned.

“I feel it is similar to shifting the items round on the sport board fairly than truly shifting our internet place ahead.” 

Woman with brown hair and blue eyes and blue shirt looking straight at camera
Olivia Lawson is worried the coverage could have unintended penalties for agriculture.(ABC Information: Clint Jasper)

Ms Lawson mentioned she’d been working arduous over the previous 20 years to cut back her farm’s personal impacts and was a part of a trial with Agriculture Victoria auditing how a lot greenhouse gases she emitted and drew again out of the environment. 

“Our main supply of emissions is methane nitrous oxide from our cattle,” she mentioned.

“Given we’re 100 per cent beef breeding enterprise, that wasn’t stunning to us.

“We have been simply actually to truly get a determine on what our footprint is after which have the ability to work on a plan to mitigate towards these emissions.” 

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However Ms Lawson mentioned she did not need to cut back her emissions to promote as carbon credit to different industries.

She mentioned she needed to make her personal farm and the broader agriculture sector carbon impartial.

“There’s a real want, I feel, for farmers to cut back their emissions,” she mentioned. 

She mentioned the duty might be made extra sophisticated by the federal authorities’s proposed coverage. 

“I feel it might set a harmful precedent, the place farmers will not be going to have the power to offset their very own emissions and change into carbon impartial themselves,” she mentioned. 

Farm land purchase ups

Farmers for Local weather Motion (FCA) has warned an elevated demand for offsets might immediate large corporations to purchase up farmland for tasks corresponding to tree rising, driving up land costs and competing with meals manufacturing.

FCA advisor and farmer, Ellen Litchfield, mentioned it was ridiculous polluters would have the ability to purchase limitless offsets at a capped value.

“There’s a large place for offsets and carbon farming and shopping for carbon credit but it surely should not come as an alternative of reducing actual emissions,” she mentioned.

Man with grey hair wearing khaki work gear on red four wheel motorbike
Phil Gardiner is unimpressed with Woodside’s presence in his small farming group.(ABC Information: Hugh Sando)

At Moora, within the West Australian wheatbelt, fuel and oil firm Woodside has bought land to revegetate as a part of its native reforestation mission, a key a part of its plan to be internet zero by 2050. 

It is not removed from Phil Gardiner’s sheep and grain farm.

He mentioned he was unimpressed by the brand new arrival in his neighbourhood. 

“We’re being very short-sighted in my opinion of promoting our land, to the massive oil or fuel corporations to assist them suppress their emissions,” he mentioned. 

“They need to be fixing their emissions at supply too, similar to we’re going to have to resolve our emissions supply, the fuel corporations want to resolve their emissions proper the place the wells are.”

In an announcement Woodside Power mentioned:

“In relation to our carbon tasks in Australia, we’re working with regional communities to make sure we don’t displace conventional agriculture, however as an alternative improve the areas the place we have now a presence.

“We intention to work with neighbours of our carbon tasks to verify land is obtainable the place there’s potential for farming actions to happen.”

Offsets stoush

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt mentioned offsets have been an vital a part of the federal government’s plan to cut back emissions. 

“I am assured that we are able to design this rising carbon market in a means that does permit for farmers to have the ability to reap the advantage of their very own carbon credit that they may be rising on their very own properties, whereas additionally nonetheless assembly the wants of business,” he mentioned.

“I do not actually assume it is an both or proposition that, we have now to both simply lower emissions at their supply or have offsets, I feel it is going to take a mixture of each. 

“As a result of the truth is that for a few of our heavy business, the expertise is just not but there to slash their emissions by the quantity that is truly wanted.”

Unbiased Senator David Pocock and the Greens have been essential to the federal government getting the laws handed by way of the Senate and both had raised concerns concerning the reliance on carbon offsets. 

The federal authorities hopes to cross the adjustments by the top of the month, with negotiations nonetheless ongoing. 

On-farm emissions

Flock of sheep being mustered by a farmer on a four wheel motorbike in dusty paddock
Phil Gardiner says he was shocked by how a lot methane his livestock produced.(ABC Information: Hugh Sando)

Whereas there aren’t any guidelines or rules requiring agriculture to cut back emissions, Phil Gardiner mentioned farmers must be future proofing for if that day got here. 

“They’re prone to if we do not have options by 2030, in my opinion, and that can primarily be pushed by our clients, be it for wheat, canola, or be it for meat,” he mentioned.

“I do not assume we as farmers within the hands-on enterprise, fairly settle for how severe the present circumstances are, and the way far more severe they may get.”

Extra help

A yellow sign reading 'Farmers need climate action' in a paddock with barbed wire fence
Farmers for Local weather Motion says most farmers need to cut back their emissions. (ABC Information: Jess Davis)

In Australia, agriculture contributes to about 13 per cent of total emissions, with almost half that coming from methane from livestock. 

In a report launched this week, Farmers for Local weather Motion urged the federal authorities to develop a nationwide agriculture and local weather change roadmap. 

600 farmers have been surveyed and Ellen Litchfield mentioned many have been in search of steering. 

“Ninety-three per cent of respondent farmers expressed a willingness to alter farming practices and to lower emissions, if it was going to have the ability to profit their farm and the atmosphere … however they simply do not actually know methods to go about it,” she mentioned. 

“The problem and the barrier that that they had is that they weren’t certain, and did not know methods to entry these new applied sciences.”

Mr Watt mentioned it was in line with what he’d been listening to from farmers. 

“I feel that is an ideal position for presidency to be enjoying that position of linking farmers with these locally who’ve the concepts about methods to change into extra sustainable, methods to deliver down your power prices, all these sorts of issues that farmers need to do,” he mentioned. 

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