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Insights from the CarbonExpo

Opportunity or threat for the food and agriculture sector?

Identifying opportunities related to a well-designed carbon price rather than dwelling on potential negative implications were discussed in a panel at last week’s Carbon Expo in Melbourne. Deborah Kerr, Manager for Natural Resource Management from Australia's National Farmers Federation, talked about their members looking for opportunities to increase productivity based on carbon management. Initiatives leading to better soil health and therefore higher productivity and less cost for fertiliser, such as increasing soil carbon, are popular with farmers. Overall, she sees a great opportunity for farmers in the Carbon Farming Initiative.


“More food – fewer emissions” was the key message from Jack Holden, Sustainability Strategy Manager at Fonterra. To achieve this, Fonterra is working closely with their farmers to identify profitable options to reduce the “on farm” contribution. Jack explained how Fonterra supports its farmers in identifying energy savings options in the milking shed and how results from the Dairy Australia carbon footprinting project that was undertaken by PE INTERNATIONAL will help them move beyond on their emissions reductions journey.


Olivia Tyler from Treasury Wine Estates explained their holistic approach to carbon management both locally in Australia and globally across the sixteen countries in which it operates. While Treasury Wine Estates are not liable under Australia’s carbon tax, they put great effort in reducing carbon in their products by using a full life cycle approach. They successfully communicate their efforts through voluntary Carbon and Water Disclosure Project reporting, as well as having achieved the carboNZero certification for one of their wines.
Summarising the session, Barbara Nebel from PE INTERNATIONAL commented, “It is good to see a positive attitude towards the carbon price and that industry focuses on the related opportunities.”


One of the other highlights of the conference was when Australian’s Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, announced that Australia will sign up for a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol which is to be discussed at global climate talks in Doha in December.  In his view the protocol, which covers less than 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and only from developed nations, was not enough on its own. Therefore, Australia will push for a broader deal which will be concluded by 2015. Without taking action to reduce emissions, the Australian economy would face a "severe economic shock" beginning in the year 2020 and so it was better to tackle it now, said Greg Combet.


New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister Tim Groser announced at the same time that New Zealand will not be following Australia but will instead make voluntary pledges under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, meaning that New Zealand will no longer have a legal obligation to reduce emissions.