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NFF welcomes more analysis on emission target impacts

21 February 2019

The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed new evidence and commentary from Dr Brian Fisher which seeks to analyse to two key policy propositions in relation to climate change and emissions reduction.

"Dr Fisher’s analysis predicting cumulative impacts of $472 billion by 2030 are a stark reminder that climate reform, while absolutely essential, will have a cost," NFF President Fiona Simson said.

"Agriculture does not shy away from its role in carbon sequestration and emissions reduction.

"The red meat sector has already contributed strongly in reducing Australia’s total emissions, reducing emissions by 45% between the baseline year of 2005 and 2015."

However, Ms Simson said policies in relation to emission reduction targets must strike the appropriate balance between being good for planet and not punitive to the economy.

"It's a debate we need to have to understand the varying impacts of different targets.

"There's not doubt that the higher the target the more there is at stake for the economy and in particular, agriculture.

"Farmers are at the coal face of climate change. We support the transition to a more carbon neutral economy, and any transition must be done in a careful and planned way."

Ms Simson said 'rushed' investment in renewables had already led to a lag in firming capacity and therefore reliability challenges during transition.

"The inevitable need to reconfigure networks to carry more geographically diverse supply will also need careful and efficient planning and implementation."

Ms Simson said farmers were already adapting by adopting solar, wind and other technologies and are vitally interested in opportunities for off grid generation and distribution proposals and waste to energy opportunities where it makes sense to do so.

Everyone agrees higher targets will have an economic impact. Some sectors will fare worse than others. For agriculture it is vital to understand what indirect and direct impacts are likely before setting off down a reform path.

"We expect the majority of any increased burden on agriculture will be flow on impacts from poorly implemented electricity market reform and increased costs on the transport sector."

Ms Simson said while farmers recognised the wicked dilemma of adaptation at a sufficient enough pace to ensure a smooth transition, the challenge was to do so without blowing out cost structures in critical sectors.

"The NFF looks forward to continued engagement to ensure that any policy proposals are carefully analysed and implemented in the most efficient and least cost manner.

"Farmers have made major contributions to meeting Kyoto 1 and 2 commitment periods and are active participants in emission reduction fund projects.

"These actions, forced (land clearing laws) and voluntary (ERF) show that the farm sector is playing a role.

"We are extremely cautious to ensure we are not left holding the burden of this next round of reforms to the extent we have in the past," Ms Simson said.

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