It’s a warm start to the week in Tamworth – with temperatures predicted to reach 35°C today and a high of near 40°C last week. By any accounts that’s hot – far hotter than the averages for this time of year.
Most of us in regional Australia feel the heat in a very real way – it affects our crops, our livestock, our production and our daily lives. We know personally the impacts of a month like October just past, which blew previous temperature records out of the water across Australia.
The heat is on in a different way across the world in Paris as climate negotiations begin. For the next 11 days, world leaders and lobbyists will thrash out the world’s first universal agreement, committing countries to set real targets and act on global warming.
Whatever your personal beliefs about climate change – and there can’t be too many left who doubt it – Australian farmers are at minimum having to deal with extreme climate variability. The impacts of a changing and variable climate are felt here on the ground, impacting our lives and our businesses, and for that reason alone every farmer in Australia should be critically interested in what happens in Paris this week.
Agriculture is critical to global food security and livelihoods – and it has huge potential to play a role in climate adaptation and mitigation. I believe it’s vital that agreements coming out of the Paris talks directly support farmers and agribusinesses to take ambitious actions to protect our own lives, our industry and the future wellbeing and sustainability of our global ecosystem, on which agriculture depends.
Education is central to dealing with the challenges that will face us in coming years. Last year Seftons completed an inspiring project, working with selected young farmers in Australia on climate friendly farming. We introduced those bright and energetic participants to the latest thinking and leading edge practices for reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. It wasn’t an abstract approach – we worked through why these practices are needed and the short and long term benefits of adopting new approaches – not only through reducing emissions, but in improving on-farm sustainability and reducing risks associated with climate change and variability.
Recently I’ve been working with TAFE NSW on developing training for people in agriculture, helping those in our industry deal with the global opportunities and challenges that we now face – including how to manage climate risk. And I’m delighted to see the University of Melbourne is offering a new Graduate Certificate in Climate Change for Primary Industries – suitable for people working in all areas of agriculture, research, agribusiness and the supply chain.
To keep an eye on what’s happening in Paris this week, follow action as it rolls out on the UN Climate Change Newsroom.