Net zero emissions from Australian agriculture: a challenge and opportunity

University of Queensland

An ambitious alliance to achieve zero net emissions in Australian agriculture and boost the $70 billion sector has been funded by the Federal Government.

The Zero Net Emissions Agricultural Cooperative Research Centre (ZNE-Ag CRC) is an initiative brokered by The University of Queensland and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Forestry and involves a consortium of 73 partners across industry, education and government.

Interim CEO and Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Director, Professor Matthew Morell said there was no time to waste.

“Reducing emissions across Australian agriculture is a significant challenge given the diversity of agricultural products we produce, the unique challenges presented by our environmental conditions, and the need for new technology to drive emissions down,” Professor Morell said.

“Time is of the essence if we are to hit our 2030 and 2050 targets.

“The collaboration includes 16 major industry groups, all six state governments and the Northern Territory, 10 universities, 3 Indigenous organisations and many SMEs and grower groups.

“This commitment of industry to this CRC is particularly important, demonstrating the leadership the sector is taking in finding economically viable mechanisms to drive to a zero net emissions future.

“I’m also particularly excited to have Indigenous organisations involved, providing the opportunity to integrate Indigenous knowledge and western science in developing enduring solutions.

“We also see a tremendous opportunity to upskill industry by developing new PhD projects, bringing more students into undergraduate courses and through the vocational training sector reach as many Australians as possible.”

The ZNE-AG CRC Chair, Dr Debra Cousins, said it was gratifying to see the government support for the CRC bid.

“The national collaboration has secured $300 million in funding over 10 years, with the Federal Government’s contribution of $87 million making it the largest CRC in the program’s history,” Dr Cousins said.

“There’s an economic imperative if we want Australian agriculture to be valued at $100 billion by 2030.

“The ZNE-Ag CRC will develop technologies and solutions to reduce emissions in agriculture, mitigating risks to future investment and trade and securing the economic future of our industry.”

Professor Morell said the team expected results within the first few years.

“We’ll provide coordinated tools for industry and benchmarks to assess emissions footprints as the first part of a more coordinated and rigorous set of approaches,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to be in a position to make such meaningful change and to drive an exciting opportunity to help Australia’s agricultural future, our national and regional future and to be good citizens in the world.”

Image above left: the ZNE-AG bid team after presenting their case in Canberra earlier this year.

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