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PM's emissions taskforce embraces problems, not solutions

11 December 2006

REPORTS today that the Prime Minister's Emissions Trading Taskforce is "stacked" with mining, manufacturing and energy interests has dealt a serious blow to the momentum behind any genuine bid to deal with climate change and to set-up an appropriate emissions trading regime, according to the National Farmers' Federation (NFF).

"Farmers must be engaged in any forum that is set up to address climate change – including emissions trading," NFF President David Crombie said. "Farmers are in the frontline and NFF has already publicly noted that climate change is perhaps the greatest threat to Australian agriculture.

"At the same time, Australian farmers are actively addressing the challenges that lie ahead and we are confident that they have a role to play in any future emissions trading system.

"When you look at the contribution Australian agriculture has already made, and stands to make in terms of being a viable carbon sink for any emissions trading framework, it’s clear the PM’s taskforce is missing the boat – opting to embrace those sectors that represent the problems, and excluding many of those who may offer solutions.

"The Australian Bureau of Statistics has already shown that Australia’s farmers spent $3.3 billion on natural resource management (2004-05), that 92% of farmers have environmental programs in place to manage and preserve their land, and that farmers plant over 20 million trees a year for conservation.

"Further, the Australian Greenhouse Office has noted that primary industries have led the nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by a massive 40%, over the past 15 years.

"Australian agriculture is walking the talk and is taking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it back where it belongs in the soil.

"It is extremely short-sighted for the PM to overlook agriculture, and a host of others, as part of this important taskforce. We fear the taskforce may be compromised before it begins, which raises questions about how seriously the Government is taking the threat of climate change."

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