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Climate Change: NFF Releases Key Discussion Paper

15 June 2006

Adapting to a changing environment is a major challenge for Australia's agricultural sector. The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) describes a new discussion paper by Allen Consulting Group as a ‘seminal document' – clearing the air of common misconceptions and providing the framework for a more informed debate on environmental policy reform.

Reflecting climate change's importance, the NFF has released the report it commissioned from the Allen Consulting Group: ‘Emissions Trading and the Land', shedding new light on the strategic considerations farmers need to address into the future.

"Farmers simply do not have enough robust information and data to make informed decisions about managing their farms in an ever-changing environment,” NFF President Peter Corish announced at the NFF Annual Policy Council Meeting today.

"The NFF commissioned the Allen Consulting Group to investigate the potential for a carbon emission trading system and assess the possible impacts (positive and negative) that such a market instrument could have on individual farm enterprises and the farming sector as a whole.”

While proposed State Government schemes do not impose emission obligations on farmers, the discussion paper looks at the potential commercial opportunities that may be gained from such a system, including:

  • shifts in competitiveness – associated with changes in relative costs across various sectors, and
  • allocation arrangements – capping emissions and, thereby, creating a market to trade excess entitlements or emission credits through carbon sinks.

Key questions for the farming sector emerging from the discussion paper include whether to:

  • support emissions trading,
  • engage in discussions on permit allocation to emission entitlements,
  • support emission offset or credits arrangements,
  • support inclusion of carbon sinks,
  • examine opportunities for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and/or
  • develop comprehensive emission and carbon sink strategies.

"Momentum is growing in Australia and overseas to cut greenhouse gas output as part of the effort to combat climate change,” Mr Corish noted. "Emission trading is being adopted across the world to drive economic incentives to reduce emissions.

"Creating a market for emission entitlements through such incentives would see those reducing their emissions able to trade their excess entitlements and carbon credits.”

The discussion paper ‘Emissions Trading and the Land' is intended to stimulate debate. The NFF will survey and consult with its members to formalise a policy position over the coming months.

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