Farmers left in the dark on emissions trading

1st June 2007Farmers are no closer to learning how they will be affected by a proposed new national carbon trading scheme.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday received a landmark report into the idea from a specially convened taskforce of senior bureaucrats and business figures.

It recommended a national market be set up by 2012, including targets for emission cuts.

But the National Farmers’ Federation wants to know how exactly that system will affect agriculture.

“Managing over 60pc of this country’s land mass, farmers know that perhaps the biggest threat to Australia’s agricultural production base – and its capacity to meet the day-to-day needs of the Australian community – is increased global climate change,” NFF chief executive Ben Fargher said today.

“While we have been frustrated by the Government’s exclusion of farmers from its Emissions Trading Taskforce, Australian farmers have already demonstrated the experience and on-the-ground knowledge essential to making any national effort to reduce greenhouse emissions work.”

Mr Fargher said primary industries have already slashed greenhouse gas emissions by 40pc over the past 15 years, mainly on the back of improvements to agricultural practice.

“In fact, Australian greenhouse gas emissions are only on track to meet Kyoto targets as a result of farmers halting land clearing and planting over 20 million trees-a-year, solely for conservation purposes,” he said.

“However, as things stand, we’re still in the dark as to how agriculture will be, or can be, positioned to do more in meeting Australia’s commitment to the climate change challenge.

“Logically, any national emissions trading scheme must recognise the contribution agriculture has already made in reducing Australia’s greenhouse emissions.

“It is only fair that emission trading rules recognise farm-scale re-vegetation since 1990 as an ’emissions off-set’ – we see this as a minimum.”

In its submission to the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading, the NFF warned of the need for “considerable care” to ensure any scheme takes account of outcomes that are environmentally effective and sustainable, balanced against economic and social implications.

“Thus, initially, farmers should not be direct participants in a national emissions trading scheme,” Mr Fargher said.

“Rather, Australian farmers have a key role to play in marketing eligible ‘off-set credits’ – enabling those in the trading scheme to achieve net reductions in their annual emissions.”

SOURCE: National rural news updated daily by FarmOnline.