Australian farmers have been urged to improve environmental performance to meet climate targets and act with Europe

“I want people to get a true picture of the really important work that Australian producers are doing to keep improving their sustainability, because that’s obviously important from an environmental perspective, but it’s also vital to our trade,” said Watt.

Farmers generate about 16 percent of the country’s emissions, compared to 18 percent for transportation and 33 percent for electricity. The sector bucked the trend in other industries, with emissions rising 3.3 percent in the year to September 2022 when the latest figures are available as livestock herds continued to recover from the drought.

Farmers have defended the environmental record of Australian agriculture, but ecologists cite deforestation as a leading cause of wildlife loss.

Farmers have defended the environmental record of Australian agriculture, but ecologists cite deforestation as a leading cause of wildlife loss.Credit:Nick Moir

Reducing emissions is a challenge for farmers who do not have direct access to clean technologies to reduce the main sources of their emissions. Algal feed additives are being developed to reduce methane-laden burps in cattle and sheep, but are not widely available commercially. Likewise, there aren’t many clean technologies available as alternatives to diesel-powered farm machinery.

The government has set mandatory emissions caps for the country’s 215 largest industrial polluters, which are allowed to reduce their greenhouse gas contribution by purchasing carbon offsets.

A major source of offsets will be farmers selling credits generated by carbon sequestration projects on their land, such as But after the sale, farmers would have to find more land to take out of production if they wanted to offset their own emissions.

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Carbon offsets are controversial in the European Union, which plans to phase out industry access to trade by 2034.

Last year, the European Parliament passed tough safeguards against land deforestation that would force international companies to prove they are not importing products from land that has been deforested or environmentally degraded since 2020.

Watt said the government is confident these anti-deforestation safeguards would not hurt Australian producers because Europe has called them in to apply them to agricultural production on cleared rainforest lands in countries like Brazil.

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However, the livestock industry is aware that the European Union could shift its focus to Australia in the future.

According to government data, 680,688 hectares of forest vegetation were cleared in Queensland in 2018-19, mostly for rangeland, and the Australian Conservation Foundation reported that only 4 per cent were audited by the former Morrison government for compliance with national environmental laws.

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https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/farmers-told-to-beef-up-green-credentials-to-trade-with-europe-20230116-p5ccub.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_politics_federal Australian farmers have been urged to improve environmental performance to meet climate targets and act with Europe

Callan Tansill

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