Australia's climate change and drought policy on the right path
While there is criticism in the mainstream media and doubt among the general public in regards to Australia’s current climate change and drought policies, the evidence shows they are performing well above their initial targets.
The Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) is a central component of Australia’s climate change policy and is a voluntary scheme that provides incentives for Aussie farmers and landholders to adopt new practices and technologies to help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
With the aim to cut emissions by 26 - 28 percent by 2030, the Australian Government has allocated $2.55 billion towards the fund to finance promising reduction projects that are designed to be implemented in Australia's long-term framework for a sustainable climate change policy.
Since the fund was implemented, our annual CO2 emissions are decreasing by 180 million tonnes annually. This is through roughly 360 projects, 80 percent of which are carried out on farmland and generate $240 million in annual revenue for project holders, many on land unproductive for other uses.
The ERF scheme has proved to be successful at reducing emissions and since its implementation in 2014 has gained high levels of participation and effective operation from landholders and farmers who are able to reap a steady return.
Australia's current drought policies introduced by the Federal Government are also showing promise at preparing for, and alleviating, drought.
Drought preparation grants and Farm Management Deposits (FMDs) make up the bulk of the preventative national drought policy and have allowed farmers and landholders to reserve excess finances in good years, which can then be used to offset feed and on-farm costs when a drought hits.
At the end of 2016, around $4.3 billion was collectively held in FMDs around Australia which, in the often unforgiving Australian environment, will be an incredible source of reserves for our farmers in the future.
Similarly, Farm Household Allowances (FHAs) and concessional loans are, for the most part, being successfully administered via State Governments and Centrelink with the purpose to cover costs associated with bad seasons on the land.
While the majority of these policies are yet to be tested by a significant drought, and we can always do better, they are showing great promise with a high adoption and retention rate by farmers.