Protest targets climate

Farmers, activists demand action, blame severity of drought on climate change


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Paris agreement 'not enough', time for bipartisan political approach, say organisers.

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A COUPLE of hundred farmers massed outside Canberra’s Parliament House on Monday morning to demand action on climate change.

Organisers, Farmers for Climate Action, said there would have been many more people there, had they not been in their paddocks grappling with the effects of the current drought, a dry exacerbated by climate change. 

FCA is a three-year-old alliance of farmers and agriculture leaders working “to make sure Australia takes the actions necessary to address damage to our climate”.

Speaking after the event FCA chief executive Verity Morgan Schmidt, said it was time an agreement to develop a national strategy to tackle climate change and signed by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud with agriculture ministers from every state had some meat on its bones.

That agreement included climate change modelling and projected impacts, risk and opportunity analysis to agriculture and national strategy to better cope with change. Ms Morgan Schmidt said it was now time to begin spelling out how adaptation can occur.

“This needs a bipartisan political approach, we need our politicians looking outwardly at the problem, rather than inwardly at party politics,” she said.

International talks in Bangkok this week failed to create guidelines to implement the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, an agreement Ms Morgan-Schmidt doesn’t think goes far enough. She said Australian agriculture was export based and in the future international trade negotiators could find leverage in a nation’s efforts to mitigate climate change.

It was better to be proactive now, rather than reactive later and possibly compromised in trade deals, she said. Ms Morgan-Schmidt said renewable energy could reduce carbon emmissions and fulfill Australia’s obligations and “we have such an abundance of renewable resources, it is not appropriate to explore other avenues of generation.”

She said farmers were adapting far more rapidly to climate change than politicians.

One of FCA’s founders and current deputy chairman Charlie Prell, who grazes sheep at Crookwell and also hosts turbines that are part of the Crookwell II wind farm, spoke at the event.

Mr Prell said the income from hosting wind turbines had enabled him to reduce his stock numbers by about two thirds, from 2000 to 750 ewes. “The wind farm has given me added resilience to remain in agriculture sustainably long-term, rather than short-term,” he said.

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