14 September 2023

Insight from: Robbie Sefton

Late last year it was widely reported that almost half of Australia’s ASX200-listed companies had made a net-zero commitment. And, increasingly, more industries are committing to this target, and at the grass-roots level, individual businesses – and even households – are striving to bring down emissions.  

‘Net zero’ is a term that has come a long way in less than a decade, and certainly still has some way to go as nations, industries and individual businesses grapple with the complexities, costs and realities of a carbon neutral future. The race is certainly on though as we all accept the realisation that things must change, and that significant, and potentially difficult, actions must be adopted in order for future generations to continue to thrive.

AgriFutures Australia has just revealed the outcomes of its Carbon Initiative Program, a $2 million commitment towards more than a dozen research projects aimed at assisting and supporting the transition of rural industries towards net-zero emissions.

AgriFutures Australia General Manager, Rural Futures Michael Beer, described it as a “strategic investment” that had come from farmers, landholders and rural industry participants who “wanted to enter the carbon space but were not sure how to do it or where to find the right information”.

This investment by AgriFutures is to be congratulated, as is their motivation for committing to these research projects. This is such a complex and dynamic field – new research, ideas, strategies emerging constantly – that individuals (often without the resources of big industry players) have every right to feel overwhelmed when it comes to starting down the road to net zero. They may recognise they have to make changes in their businesses to ensure economic survival into the future – that’s an undisputed reality – but just how and where to start is potentially slowing their progress.

A recent field day in the NSW North West really highlighted this demand for information and support around making a start on emissions reductions. Paraway Pastoral, which currently has 27 pastoral enterprises across Queensland, NSW, and Victoria, has committed to a net-zero target by 2040, but the business was keen to look beyond its own goals, wanting to help smaller agriculture operations with their emissions journey as well. The field day they hosted was titled ‘Getting Started’, reflecting the company’s desire to help “demystify getting started on the road to emissions management”.

More than 200 farmers, many who travelled quite long distances to attend, registered for the event where they heard from a range of experts in various fields related to emissions reduction, and from Paraway Pastoral representatives on the business’ own journey to date. A key message was establishing a baseline for emissions is the critical first step – knowing what your emissions are and where they’re coming from, and that there are tools available to assist with this process.

The complexities, though, and financial impost around emissions reduction targets can’t be ignored, and producers need to know where to find the necessary information, support and advice they need. It’s imperative many more outreach initiatives, like those from AgriFutures and Paraway Pastoral, are extended to farmers by both the industry and policy-makers as emissions targets loom larger and expectations weigh heavier.

To read this article in The Land newspaper, visit  Industry making strides towards net-zero commitment but outreach and support critical for farmers embarking on the journey | The Land | NSW