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Fed Farmers urged to take climate change seriously

Tuesday, 20 November 2001 Media Statement

Fed Farmers urged to take climate change seriously

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson today urged Federated Farmers to maximise their benefits by taking a constructive and strategic approach to climate change issues.

In a speech to a Federated Farmers national council meeting on climate change Mr Hodgson, Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, said the Government’s intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol had powerful reasons behind it and farmers should weigh them carefully.

“In the longer run, the effects of climate change on agriculture are predicted to be overwhelmingly negative,” Mr Hodgson said. “More extreme weather, alone, would ensure that – let alone the water, habitat and biosecurity threats. Doing nothing would mean sleepwalking into these hazards. For a country as dependent on primary production as this one, that would be nothing short of negligence.”

“We still buy our place in the developed world with grass. On a global scale we contribute next to nothing to the emissions that cause climate change. But we stand to suffer economically from the effects much more than the more heavily industrialised western nations.”

Mr Hodgson said the standard of Federated Farmers’ contribution to the climate change debate so far was disappointing.

“The focus has been uniquely on the costs of action. There is a curious reluctance to consider the costs of inaction, or the benefits of a constructive response.

“The costs of inaction are an open cheque. Think about the costs of floods and droughts in this country, think about those millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, and then think about multiplying them. Think about the $120 million a year we already spend on biosecurity. Think about the costs created by lower rainfall, salinisation and depleted aquifers.

“Clearly the farming sector will have to bear its share of the costs of responding to climate change, just as it will have its share of the benefits. The Government’s interest is in getting the balance right. Federated Farmers can help achieve that by contributing serious arguments and analysis — and I invite you to start doing so.”

ENDS

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