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How reaching Net Zero can help the Agriculture Industry

Ask any schoolkid to name one of the primary causes of greenhouse gas emissions, and they will tell you – with a smile on their face – that its methane gas from cows. While not strictly true – sheep also make a significant contribution – it’s no laughing matter.

An article in The Conversation pointed out: “Australian agricultural activities emitted about 76 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions in 2019. Of this, about 48 million tonnes were methane belched by cattle and sheep, and 11 million came from their excrement.”

Overall, agriculture in Australia accounts for around 14% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions each year and, with the addition of land clearing, “contributes about 20-22% of national greenhouse gas emissions, nearly equal to the transport sector’s contribution”, according to Professor Richard Eckhard of Melbourne University.

Three reasons to work towards lower emissions

There’s no doubt that Australia’s agriculture sector makes a significant contribution to our economy. The $67 billion-a-year sector employs over 320,000 people and contributes 1.9% of GDP. Yet, of all the industries looking to reduce emissions to meet national and international climate change goals, agriculture arguably has the most reason to change, as it stands to be affected the most.

1. The agriculture sector is uniquely vulnerable to climate change

Being intimately connected to the natural environment means farmers and their products are more susceptible to the effects of climate change, including drought, heatwaves, bushfires, floods and storms

2. Exposure to international market tariffs

As an export-heavy industry in some sectors – particularly red meat, which exports nearly 75% of production - it could be open to border taxes. For example, The European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will, from 2023, impose additional costs on industries with a high carbon footprint.

3. An opportunity to secure additional revenue streams

As The Conversation points out: “Trees provide shade for animals, while good soil management can preserve the land’s fertility. Both activities can store carbon and may generate carbon credits, which can be used to can be used to offset farm emissions, or sold to other emitters.”

What is the opportunity?

According to the Ernst and Young report, there are four critical areas of opportunity for farmers in a low-emissions agricultural environment.

These are:

  • Methane reduction.
  • Transport and electricity
  • Land use change.
  • Improved land management.

Transitioning to renewables.

Australia’s vast natural resources and biodiverse land provides many opportunities for farmers to become more sustainable and, at the same time, increase the potential to diversify incomes.
For example, by using land assets to generate renewable energy through wind, solar and even hydroelectricity, where that’s not possible, by increasing uptake of solar or wind energy to replace grid consumption.

This has many benefits, including: Less susceptibility to energy price rises – which can have a considerable impact on profitability. Less reliance on a single source of energy – which can cause issues around business continuity.

Compliance with existing and future regulations – which is pushing all areas of the economy to account for and reduce emissions. Meeting consumer needs – which is increasingly looking to engage only with ‘sustainable’ businesses. Australian farmers also have the opportunity to diversify their incomes through the generation of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) and similar assets.

EcoAvo is a small avocado producer in southwest WA. Moving to carbon neutrality by offsetting their emissions is designed to build resilience in the business by focusing investments into renewable energy and altering its reliance on fossil fuels. They have also opted for all ‘Natural Power’ from their grid energy supplier, which supports renewable energy generation.

EcoAvo, is located in West Australia. “We recognise that we are not just farmers and play a critical role in sustainable development.”.

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.)

Energy Action’s services include:

Step 1: Measure your usage and emissions

Step 2: Lower your costs.

Step 3: Consider your emission reduction options

Step 4: Procure at least-cost

Step 5: Fulfilment of certification management

Through our solar auction platform, you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

To find out more about how we can help you reach your Net Zero goals, contact us.

Sources:

  1. The Conversation: The clock is ticking on net-zero, farmers most not get a free pass 26 September, 2021
  2. Melbourne University website: Agriculture can be climate neutral by 2030
  3. Ernst and Young Report: How can Australia’s agriculture realise opportunity in a low emissions future? Figures from -Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (2021) Snapshot of Australian Agriculture 2021. Figures include Fisheries and Forestry, which constitute approximately 8% of overall value.

Ready for change? Contact us.



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