5 March 2024. Michael Guerin, AgForce CEO.

It is a truth well understood that our cities are not only major centres of economic activity, knowledge, innovation and governance - they are also the site of our highest consumption of natural resources.

And that of course has major environmental consequences - with cities linked to between 70% to 80% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

This sentiment is not simply hearsay - it is backed up by recent scientific research outlined in the Journal of Industrial Ecology (Volume 20, Issue 4 p. 676-691) which found that that cities are associated with most of humanity’s consumption of natural resources, and the related impacts on the environment. 

Yet despite this, the Kyoto Protocol, which was ratified by Kevin Rudd when he came to power in 2007, puts the issues of emissions and the reduction of that pollution squarely at the feet of agriculture.  According to Article Two of the protocol - agriculture is the main cause - the bogeyman.

It makes no sense to me either – but these foundational pieces mean our primary industries keep getting burdened with more and more of the heavy lifting to reduce emissions.  Without equitable support from the industries most to blame.

That’s why I stood beside Premier Steven Miles the other week when he announced stronger emissions reduction targets will be backed into Queensland law. 

Our voice needs to be heard in these decisions – and the only way to do that is to be at every conversation about it - as exhausting as that can be.  As that bill starts its legislative approval process through parliament, AgForce intends to be omnipresent.

Since our baseline year of 1995, only one industry in Australia has tangibly reduced its net emissions profile and that is the food and fibre production industry.  This cannot be debated – it’s in the national accounts.

So, we are not the heart of the problem. Yet now we are being asked to do bear more of the load in reducing emissions. 

While this makes no sense to me – more importantly we need to get our story out there and into the minds of every policy decision maker in the country. can tell our story in an irrefutable way.  That’s why some Queensland graziers and farmers have built it into their business in painstaking detail over the last few years. 

We can and should be proud of our industry – and not be afraid to take part in every conversation we can to reinforce that.

The rural sector needs to confront the climate movement with this evidence base.  Under Kyoto, urban emissions are not mentioned, but agriculture is directly identified as carbon sinks. This absurd premise must be addressed.