The state’s leading agricultural organisation is calling on the federal government to repay billions owed to farmers.
Costly emissions reduction action taken by farmers to help Australia meet its Kyoto commitments resulted in a surplus of 431 million tonnes of carbon captured – worth more than $30 billion* today.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the balance sheet must be squared before the federal government signs up to any deals at Glasgow.
“In Australia we saw agriculture pay for the entire nation’s carbon ‘sins’, with billions of dollars’ worth of carbon taken from farmers with a swipe of the legislator’s pen,” Mr Jackson said.
“That is the statutory theft we have been claiming for a generation – everybody wants to fix carbon, but nobody wants to pay.
“Before government does anything else on emissions, they need to pay their debts and recognise agriculture’s unique capacity to use carbon, not steal it.”
As an industry agriculture is a huge consumer of carbon dioxide, removing millions of tonnes from the atmosphere and turning it into useful things like food. Mr Jackson said this unique role of agriculture was missed by many, and it was time to set the record straight.
“It is our business to use biology to make all sorts of things out of carbon dioxide and water, no other sector uses carbon dioxide by the megaton like farmers do,” Mr Jackson said.
“If we as a nation come away from Glasgow with an agreement that places more restrictions on agriculture instead of recognising its critical role in feeding and cleaning the planet, we will have failed to address the real issues of carbon emissions.
“You wouldn’t drain a wetland or clear a rainforest for producing emissions (which they do), neither should we unfairly burden an industry that is responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
*Figure calculated on a European rate of $70 per tonne