Australia Institute fires back over Agforce’s ‘hypocrisy’ claims

Beef Central, 04/06/2021

The Australia Institute has requested right of reply following criticisms levelled at the organisation by Queensland farm lobby group AgForce, over its recent Banking on Australia’s Emissions report.

In Monday’s original article, AgForce questioned the Australia Institute’s credibility after its latest report on climate highlighted emissions caused by livestock had declined 25.4pc between 1990 and 2019, yet claimed, “any reduction in these emissions is likely to revert to previous levels” as drought conditions ease (click here to view AgForce’s original comments).

Set out below is a response from the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program Director, Richie Merzian.

It is disappointing that peak bodies claiming to represent Australia’s farmers have chosen to interpret the Australia Institute’s report Banking on Australia’s Emissions as a criticism of the agriculture sector.

The Australia Institute recognises that Australia’s farmers are experiencing first-hand the impacts of climate change, and similarly recognises their contribution to reducing emissions in the land sector.  

The report in question highlights that the Prime Minister’s claim of a 19pc reduction in Australia’s emissions is misleading, and the basis of the claim relies on tricky accounting to conceal a lack of progress in transitioning to a low carbon economy.

The report does not attack agriculture – rather it exposes the lack of work being done in other sectors of the Australian economy to reduce emissions. The Government’s recent release of Australia’s quarterly emissions data further confirms the dangerous lack of transition in sectors such as manufacturing, transport and waste.

Both the report and the lack of emissions reductions across other sectors of the Australian economy should be of particular interest to the agriculture industry for two reasons.

Firstly, farmers are on the front line of the climate crisis. If Australia does not reduce emissions across all its sectors, it is the livelihoods of primary producers that are some of the most at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Secondly, and perhaps of greater concern, is that if other industries where it is actually easier and cheaper to reduce emissions (such as electricity and transport) don’t lift their weight, it will fall to industries where it is far more expensive and difficult (such as agriculture) to shoulder the burden. The Australia Institute’s report Harming Farming highlights the cost to farmers if an economy-wide transition to a low carbon economy doesn’t occur.

It is regrettable that representatives of peak organisations have chosen to criticise the Australia Institute and its research, rather than advocate for their members and address the double-blow to farmers of Australia failing to take sufficient action in the highest-emitting sectors of the economy.

About the Australia Institute

The Australia Institute says its goal is to provide intellectual and policy leadership. “We conduct research that drives the public debate and secures policy outcomes that make Australia better.” Its website says. The Institute is independently funded by donations from philanthropic trusts and individuals, as well as grants and commissioned research from business, unions and non-government organisations. It does not accept donations or commissioned work from political parties. “With no formal political or commercial ties, the Institute is in a position to maintain its independence while advancing a vision for a fairer Australia,” its website says.






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