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. In this blog, we'll dive into how reading net zero can help the agriculture industry.
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, the agriculture industry 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.
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, the agriculture industry 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.”
According to the Ernst and Young report, there are four critical areas of opportunity for farmers in a low-emissions agricultural environment.
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.
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.