Farmers Demand Information on Net Zero Plan

By Hari Yellina
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Agricultural organisations seek more information on the government’s plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 so they can grasp what it means for them. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor held a nearly hour-long press conference on Tuesday, outlining how Australia will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The National Farmer’s Federation, on the other hand, believes that important details impacting farmers should be clarified.

Mr Taylor claims that 90 million hectares of farmlands will help the government meet its net zero goal. It is undeniable that agriculture has enormous potential to generate offsets. “It’s already a carbon sink. It can be a much greater one,” the energy minister told reporters. “You’ll see in the plan precisely where we consider those opportunities are. They’re very, very substantial.” Moreover, carbon capture and storage presents a major opportunity as well. However, Charlie Prell, the chair of Farmers for Climate Action, claimed the plan was lacking in details regarding potential opportunities.

Mr Prell told AAP that there wasn’t much substance in this declaration, if any at all. “I’m concerned that this is just a campaign-style announcement for the next election.” The government was also chastised by a sheep grazier from Crookwell, NSW, for not connecting law to the strategy. Mr Morrison stated that the aim will not be accompanied by any laws or mandates. Mr Prell told AAP, “If they’re serious about it, why wouldn’t they legislate it?” The main concern is that they won’t act to legislate the government’s goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. From what is being seen, these discussions have resulted in critical safeguards to guarantee farmers can engage in sequestration possibilities.

However, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) stated that less regulation is good for farmers. “We’re glad to see that the government’s proposal avoids regulation and taxes, as opposed to the failed Kyoto method, which saw farmers forced into bearing the cost without remuneration or acknowledgement,” Ms Simson added. If property is fenced off for biodiversity conservation, Mr Prell believes farmers should be compensated to trap carbon in soil and trees and manage the landscape. Mr Prell believes that they should be rewarded for that.

GreenCollar, one of Australia’s top carbon offset companies, said the plan emphasises the critical role agriculture plays in lowering emissions. Before the plan was unveiled the Lock the Gate Alliance labelled it “a farce” after media reported the Inland Rail extension to Gladstone was a condition granted to the National Party—a move that is designed to open up a vast new thermal coal basin. Lock the Gate says the emissions from these mines would be huge, claiming they would emit almost a third of Australia’s total carbon emissions.


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