THE CLIMATE KELPIE BLOG: It takes teamwork to tackle the climate challenge

Posted by BCG on 30th March 2021

Whether it is on the sporting field or in the agricultural sector the old adage, a champion team will always beat a team of champions, highlights the importance of a coordinated approach.

While each agricultural industry sector faces its own unique set of climate challenges, there are many issues that impact across multiple industries. For example, developing accurate climate projections is an issue that is common across all sectors.

In 2020 the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) established the Climate Initiative to foster a more coordinated response to tackling climate issues.

“Agricultural industries need to both adapt to current and future risks and to be able to demonstrate their mitigation response to the broader community,” says Council of Rural RDCs Executive Officer Tim Lester.

The Climate Initiative is designed to encourage blue sky thinking. Photo: David Fletcher.

Many agricultural industry bodies have already made a commitment to net zero emissions by the year 2050, and the Australian Red Meat Industry has set an ambitious 2030 target.

“Industries are working hard to improve climate adaption and develop strategies to mitigate climate change, but there are limits to what can be achieved working in isolation.”

“Individual industries have worked together in the past, but we need to strengthen these relationships and foster greater coordination between industry sectors. By working together, industries can harness their collective wisdom and scarce resources to achieve a better return on investment.”

New initiative

The RDC’s Climate Initiative aims to develop solutions that can be readily adopted across multiple industries. For instance, access to meaningful climate forecasts is an issue relevant to agricultural sectors and any solutions need to be broadly applicable.

The program is working with producers and other industry representatives to identify research and development opportunities that will lead to practical solutions.

“We held a series of six remote workshops in 2020 with over 70 participants representing producers, industry, government, supply chains and researchers. They’ve identified 22 barriers and opportunities that end-users associate with addressing climate impacts,” Tim said.

Priority issues included:

  • support future planning for farmers by improving the ability to predict and articulate climate impacts at a regional level, particularly for the medium-term future (five to 10 years),
  • the need to manage input risks such as energy and water resources, and
  • the need for clear cross-sectoral climate benchmarks for baseline emissions that will allow industries to measure and demonstrate progress using consistent and widely recognised data.

Real solutions

Farmers Angus Atkinson, Nigel Corish and David Byrd participated in the project teams because they believe that farmers need to be on the front foot and work together to develop solutions to the climate challenge.

Angus says farmers are part of the solution, and the better they can be coordinated in their response, the better it will be for everyone.

The Coonabarabran beef producer and chair of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Sustainable Development Committee said, “The Climate Initiative is an enormous opportunity to develop solutions and a coordinated response is essential. We need to be at the forefront of adaption and mitigation so that we can map our own future.”

Queensland grower Nigel Corish says that cross-industry collaboration will have real benefits to helping farmers prepare for the future.

Nigel, who grows cotton and grain at Goondiwindi and Condamine in Queensland, says the initiative is a great opportunity for different RDCs to work together and learn from different approaches.

“Getting people talking about how to future proof our industry is vital and the cross-industry collaboration that will result from this initiative will have real benefits to helping farmers prepare for the future,” said Nigel.

Tim says that the RDC’s have worked together on projects before, but this initiative is about working differently. “The different agriculture industries, and their associated RDCs are facing comparable challenges and are, in many cases, developing similar or complimentary solutions. This project aims to identify these common areas and take a ‘whole of industry’ approach that focuses first and foremost on producer needs.”

Dairy farmer David Byrd from Byaduk in South-West Victoria says anything that helps get the climate challenge on the agenda is a good thing.

“One thing we’ve all learnt during the COVID crisis of the last year is just how important it is to maintain access to food. Farmers are vital producers of food and must be included in the climate conversation,” David said.

“A lot of people on the ground are doing good things to reduce emissions, but to make a difference we need a collective voice. By working together, the RDCs will have more power to provide that link between farmers and government and that will provide more opportunities to make a demonstrable difference.”

Victorian dairy farmer David Byrd says that by working together the RDCs will have more opportunities to make a demonstrable difference.

Initial investments through the Climate Initiative are being rolled out in 2021 and more information is available in the Climate initiative – Report on progress to the Council of RDCs.

More information

Tim Lester, 0437 524 933, tim.lester@crrdc.com.au
RDC Climate Initiative

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