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Unprecedented cross-sector alliance to address climate change

A cross-sector alliance between agriculture, forestry and ecological sectors will call for an allied front on climate policy

An unprecedented cross-sector alliance will address climate change mitigation strategies as peak bodies condemn the Coalition for its “woefully inadequate” targets.

The Climate Proofing Australia (CPA) is an alliance of representatives from the ecological restoration, agriculture and forestry sectors to advocate for a whole-of-landscape method to tackle climate change and generate income for farmers and landholders by 2030.

It is made up of members from major organisations Greening Australia, Australian Forest Products Association, Red Meat Advisory Council and Farmers for Climate Change.

Greening Australia CEO, Brendan Foran, said the alliance “is calling for public policy and political parties to embrace the significant role our sectors can play in Australia’s climate change mitigation strategies”, and is supported by Climate Change Authority reports.

“As managers of nearly 50 per cent of the Australian landmass, farmers and landholders across the food, fibre and conservation sectors play a key role in protecting Australia’s natural environment. With land-based activities also accounting for around 20 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, it’s no longer viable to ignore,” Foran said.

This comes as the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) said Coalition targets are leaving people on low incomes vulnerable to climate change impacts as it fails to plan to transition equitably to clean energy with protections.

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ACOSS CEO, Cassandra Goldie, said: “This summer’s extreme weather of heatwaves, fires and floods, made worse by climate change, have destroyed people’s homes and impacted livelihoods and health, especially for people experiencing poverty.”

“There is no room for ideology when it comes to protecting people’s lives and livelihoods, we must rapidly shift away from fossil fuels like coal to clean energy sources.”

ACOSS said it is disappointed that the most effective and least costly plan for reducing carbon pollution seemed to be off the political agenda and said the government should work with COAG on co-funding energy efficiency and solar in new and existing housing and Indigenous communities and implement mandatory standards for rental properties.

“We welcomed recent government announcements to curb poor retail electricity pricing, but ongoing failure to implement a plan to transition equitably to clean affordable energy is contributing to electricity price rises and leaving low-income households unable to benefit from home solutions like rooftop solar,” Goldie said.

The CPA said it recognises the importance of carbon emissions measures but suggested a new approach to land management to encourage farmers to earn carbon credits and to create more habitat for Australia’s native plants and animals.

“The current Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) conditions limit the land sector’s capacity to generate co-benefits associated with carbon sequestration, such as reinstating wildlife habitat, supporting sustainably agriculture, increasing the plantation forestry estate and cleaner waters in our rivers,” said CEO of Australian Forestry Products Association, Ross Hampton.

The alliance’s key principles will address the need for improving the Australian landscape by balancing native biodiverse plantings with forestry and agriculture production, as well as developing new mechanisms and incentives for carbon abatement on land projects. It is also aiming to see primary industries work towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

Farmers for Climate Change CEO, Morgan Schmidt, said: “It’s time for all industries and Government to step forward to address the challenges of climate change, and embrace big picture solutions and collaborative approaches. The launch of CPA demonstrates the power and opportunities presented by cross-sectoral approaches.”

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