Farmers need to call out climate risks

In January 2014 we had an extraordinarily hot day, regarded as a one in 100-year event, and it knocked hundreds of millions of dollars of summer crop production in our region. In February 2017 it happened again, coupled with a record-breaking period of continuous extreme heat. So much for one-in-100; it now feels like the new normal.

In my farming business, the impact of a changing climate is already evident and seriously harmful. As we continue to witness record-breaking weather event after record-breaking weather event, the government stands by. I’m now convinced more than ever that, by setting a lowball target of only 26 per cent reduction in emissions from the energy sector, the federal government is failing to grasp the reality of what happens if we continue to compromise our nation’s agricultural capacity.

As farmers, we need to stand up and call out genuine risks to our industry. If we don’t act on climate change now, we are condemning our livelihoods and all future generations to oblivion. The simplest and most cost-effective way of reducing carbon emissions lies in transitioning the static electricity generation industry to renewables.

Regional Australia presents an amazing opportunity for decentralised, 5-10 megawatt solar installations at a fraction of the cost of large-scale solar.  The award-winning Chillamurra solar farm near Goondiwindi has proven this, by using smaller panels to save up to 40 per cent on construction costs. Australian farmers are extremely resilient when it comes to managing production and market volatility. But climate change will soon put more pressure on our systems than ever before, meaning we can no longer survive on our own.

Energy and policy settings built around electoral cycles and destructive back bench capitulations are completely at odds with the long-term needs of our economy and the foundations of our society. In the context of energy policy, the national interest is best served through a planned and orderly transition to clean energy and a much higher emissions reduction target for the energy sector.

In the end we are all just stewards of the land, with a responsibility to pass it on to future generations in good condition, or preferably better than we received it. Australia can and must show global leadership on mitigating carbon emissions now.

  • Peter Mailler is a grain producer from Goondiwindi, Queensland