Australia has joined the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28.
“Australian agriculture has a proud track record of sustainable farming, and many farming groups are working towards ambitious emissions targets they’ve set for themselves, finally with a Federal Government at their side,” Minister Watt said.
“The Emirates Declaration is a commitment to scale-up adaptation and resilience activities across the agriculture sector, which is important because Australian farmers face all sorts of challenges made worse by climate change, including drought and increased natural disasters.
“The declaration aims to maximise the climate and environmental benefits associated with agriculture and food systems.
“And it will deepen ties with valued trading partners across the globe—countries who are increasingly demanding strong sustainability credentials for food and fibre imports.
“Everybody wins: our farmers, our exporters and the next generation of Australian primary producers.”
The Albanese Government is also investing in new technology and help for farmers to adopt even more sustainable practices, and has recently begun consultation on Australia’s first agriculture and land sector plan for reducing emissions.
“Our farmers are on the front line when it comes to climate change. Over the last 20 years, ABARES modelling shows climate change has reduced the average Australian farm’s profitability by 23 percent – about $30,000,” Minister Watt said.
“And unfortunately, farmers more often than not bear the brunt of extreme weather that has become increasingly common around the country.
“This is one more way that we are working to secure both the future of Australian agriculture in the face of those threats and our trusted position in the global marketplace.”
NFF: Farmers should be the core of decisions that affect them
The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the announcement, saying the Declaration stresses the importance of the agriculture sector as a major stakeholder in the debate, and reaffirms farmers being at the core of decisions made that affect them.
“The NFF recognises the fundamental challenge that adaptation and emissions reduction represent to our industry,” NFF President David Jochinke, who is attending COP28 in Dubai, said.
“It’s critical that climate adaptation doesn’t compromise our ability to produce food and fibre, or result in reduced productivity, by limiting herd numbers for example.
The Declaration stresses “that any path to fully achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement must include agriculture and food system”. The NFF maintain that the commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement should continue to recall Article 2, which recognises the importance of “Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production”.
The Declaration pledges to “revisit or orient policies and public support related to agriculture and food systems to promote activities which increase incomes, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and bolster resilience, productivity, livelihoods, nutrition, water efficiency and human, animal and ecosystem health while reducing food loss and waste, and ecosystem loss and degradation”.
Mr Jochinke said that this was pleasing to read, and reemphasised the NFF’s commitment to addressing climate change.
“The NFF is fully committed to working collaboratively and constructively on this matter with the Government, particularly as we consult on upcoming sectoral plans during 2024”.
The Declaration also called for Parties to “accelerate and scale science and evidence-based innovations – including local and indigenous knowledge – which increase sustainable productivity and production of agriculture”.
Mr Jochinke noted that a continued focus on science and innovation was critical.
“Farmers are continually seeking improvements and innovation based on risk, science and evidence, and policies that support the innovation and uptake of new technologies that reduce emissions should be encouraged,” Mr Jochinke said.
Source: Minister for Agriculture, National Farmers Federation