National Farmers' Federation

Arbitrary ETS date a ‘no go’ for agriculture

SPECULATION that the Australian Government may be poised to suggest an arbitrary date for agriculture’s inclusion under an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in Wednesday’s Green Paper – despite being unable to measure, monitor or verify the sector’s true emissions profile – greatly concerns the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
“It’s news to us,” NFF President David Crombie said. “All indications have been that the Government recognises agriculture cannot be covered at this time – as both Professor Ross Garnaut and the Productivity Commission have made clear.
“Nor are the challenges of covering agriculture within an ETS isolated to Australia. No country in the world has found a way to equitably include its agricultural production in an ETS. That is, with the exception of New Zealand, where farmers are now looking at margins reducing by up to 160% as a result.
“As Professor Garnaut and the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission both found, measuring, monitoring and verifying agricultural carbon emissions across 155,000 farms is simply not possible to do accurately, equitably or cost effectively at this time – nor do many of our farmers have access to genuine low cost and accessible abatement options.
“The Government must be careful not to just pluck any date out of the air for agriculture’s suggested coverage under an ETS without providing a clear demonstration of how and when the obstacles will be overcome.
“We have always acknowledged that Australian farmers have a role in further reducing greenhouse gas concentrations. We’ve proven that, already reducing emissions by 40% since 1990. And we’re happy to do more provided we have the right tools and policies to support such action.
“But first there needs to be recognition of the sequestration and storage of carbon in soils, crops and pastures to take full account of agriculture’s natural cycle. The science also has to catch up so farm emissions can be accurately measured, monitored and verified, and commercially viable options to reduce on-farm emissions need to be available.
“Today, there are no definite indications that any of these needs can be met, nor is there any clear pathway for being able to achieve them. Much more research needs to be done.
“We hope the ETS Green Paper will show that an arbitrary date for covering agriculture, without iron clad guarantees of addressing these obstacles, is in no one’s interest.”

Add comment