A ground-breaking cross-sectoral initiative is underway to develop a solution that enables Australian farmers, fishers and foresters to understand their enterprise’s carbon footprint and make better informed decisions to reduce emissions and capture new opportunities.
Speaking at the ABARES Outlook 2023 conference today, Mr Sam Brown, CEO of Agricultural Innovation Australia (AIA), announced a collaboration across agriculture, fisheries and forestry, to undertake a large-scale deep-dive across their commodity supply chains, which will support the development of a whole-of-industry carbon footprint solution.
AIA is a not-for-profit public company established by Australia’s Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), to facilitate joint investment and collaboration in cross-sectoral agricultural issues of national importance.
The Know & Show Your Carbon Footprint initiative will see the development of an easy to access cross-commodity platform that will help growers to have a better understanding of baseline carbon emissions and residual footprint for their entire enterprise.
Mr Brown said while there has been much work at a scientific and academic level to understand the carbon footprint of agricultural commodities, tools are not readily accessible by growers and industry, prompting the RDCs, through AIA, to focus on a whole-of-agriculture solution.
Twelve RDCs are participating in the discovery phase of Know & Show Your Carbon Footprint, including: Grains Research & Development Corporation, Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Australian Pork, Wine Australia, Australian Eggs, Cotton Research & Development Corporation, Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, Forest & Wood Products Australia, Australian Livestock Export Corporation Ltd (LiveCorp), Australian Wool Innovation, and Hort Innovation.
Mr Brown said that the discovery phase is helping AIA deepen its understanding of the current gaps, pain points, and specific needs of the growers, commercial players and solution providers across the different commodities.
“AIA starts all initiatives with an in-depth discovery phase to ensure we fully understand the problem to be solved. The insights gathered will ensure we have clearly defined and validated objectives and will help us identify the capability and partners needed to deliver on them.
“What we are already hearing is that many growers are operating mixed enterprises or are keeping that option open to manage risk into the future. This is why it was important for us to focus on a common and standardised carbon accounting framework.
“Growers are also concerned about potential future market access issues and being able to identify ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their entire enterprise.”
Cattle, sheep and grains producer from Coorow, Juliet McDonald, agrees.
"Everything we do has a consequence elsewhere in the farming system, because we have multiple enterprises all operating on the same land area.
“A simple calculator could show us which levers in our business we can pull to maximise our impact on emissions, so that our business is ready with answers when the markets require information."
The design of the Know & Show Your Carbon Footprint solution is also being informed by agricultural carbon accounting situations in other countries.
“Our analysis showed that Australian agriculture was in a prime position to move early and together, to create a common, consistent platform, and to avoid the fragmentation, duplication and inconsistences other markets are now faced with”, said Mr Brown.
The initiative has already garnered interest from the private sector, including supply chain organisations and commercial providers.
“We’ve held discussions with potential private sector investors and partners. They see clear efficiencies in bringing the RDCs’ commodity-specific carbon research and knowledge together and want to be able to include this type of carbon footprint solution in their own client service offerings.”
Sam Brown participated in a panel discussion Enabling transformation to meet sustainability challenges at the ABARES Outlook 2023 conference on Wednesday the 8 March at 11.30am.
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