Against this backdrop, farmers are well advised to get on the front foot and look for ways to reduce emissions. Spurred on by industry association initiatives like the Carbon Neutral 30 (CN30), new government pledges to cut methane emissions across all sectors, and potential upcoming regulation, farmers should seize the opportunities to decarbonise if they want to get ahead of the curve and remain competitive, while also unlocking new value in their farming and livestock operations by increasing productivity and efficiency.
The industry signals are clear
Recent developments in high-profile farming organisations are setting the direction of travel; it's clear other producers will soon follow suit. The Australian government has pledged to reduce methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. Meanwhile, in anticipation of stronger regulation on greenhouse gas emissions, the industry association Meat & Livestock Australia has set a Carbon Neutral 30 (CN30) climate neutral target for 2030, and the National Farmers Federation has committed to a net zero target for 2050.
The potential impact of regulation on the agricultural sector is also very real: recently, New Zealand proposed a tax on methane emissions for the livestock sector. Many farmers are also under pressure from their customers to reduce on-farm and livestock emissions. Many big retailers and FMCG brands, such as Coles, Woolworths, but also Bega Cheese and Ben & Jerry's, have set net zero policies.
Opportunities for farmers to decarbonise
Farmers looking to make positive changes now are encouraged to ramp up their decarbonisation efforts. Yet they should also be clear about the pros and cons of different decarbonisation approaches. How should the farming community make progress towards the 2030 methane reduction target? What solutions will help farmers achieve the methane reduction goal? Frustration at the lack of clarity was documented at the recent Beef Up Forum in Clermont, where the panel was asked whether it's better to finish livestock early to reduce emissions or improve grazing management systems for grass-finished livestock.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Yet, avoidance and sequestration approaches – or a combination of the two emissions reduction project types – offer important opportunities for farmers to mitigate their emissions. Carbon methods for avoidance projects involve actions that avoid or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. Carbon methods for sequestration projects involve activities that permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
We've put together a table to provide a general overview of avoidance and sequestration approaches in the Australian and international context to help you decide which could be relevant to you.