A Deloraine farmer who packed up sold his farm in Queensland and moved to Tasmania due to climate change is calling for a national approach to the issue in the wake of a global report.
Rob McCreath , a beef farmer from Montana, near Deloraine, said the impacts of climate change on agriculture had been felt in the sector "for some time" but the recent report outlined it in stark detail.
"Agriculture is a big part of the problem, but we also have the opportunity to be a big part of the solution, as much as that sounds cliche," he said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was released in Switzerland on Thursday and examined the global impacts of climate change on the land and how food production and consumption need to change to mitigate the release of further carbon into the atmosphere.
Mr McCreath said he moved his farm from Darling Downs in Queensland two years ago to Tasmania, because of his experience of drought and his fears that it would only escalate.
"Droughts were becoming more severe even then, and now it's in the middle of the worst drought this year."
He said he and his wife were "getting pretty worried" with the upward temperature trends that they packed up and moved to Tasmania to avoid it.
Darling Downs is in the midst of the worst drought on record, as New South Wales and Queensland grapple with low winter rainfall and higher than average temperatures that have some regional towns on high water restrictions and others completely run dry.
Mr McCreath said the IPCC report was a good example of the implications of not doing anything and said he was disappointed with the lack of action from the federal government on the issue.
"There are plenty of things that farmers can do but we need the support at a national level."
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A bet each way for land use
Mr McCreath said farmers had a huge opportunity to be part of the solution to climate change through land management and supporting renewable energy but political leaders needed to also play their part.
The IPCC report noted that land "was both a source and a sink" of greenhouse gases and played a key role in the exchange or energy, water and aerosols between the land surface and the atmosphere.
"Sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change, on ecosystems and societies," the report read.
Mr McCreath said he hoped governments and farmers could work together to manage sustainable land management practices that would help mitigate warming and extreme weather conditions.
"Tasmania is vulnerable to climate change like anywhere else, mainly through increased bushfire risk," Mr McCreath said.
"Farmers have a role to play in helping manage that risk, but we need support."
The report noted some several actions and practices could be adapted for agriculture to help mitigate climate change such as increasing soil organic matter, erosion control, improved fertiliser management, improved crop management and the use of genetic improvements for heat and drought tolerance in crops.
"For livestock, options include better grazing land management, improved manure management, higher-quality feed, and use of breeds and genetic improvement," the report read.
"Depending on the farming and pastoral systems and level of development, reductions in the emissions intensity of livestock products may lead to absolute reductions in GHG emissions."
Change the way we eat for the planet
Individuals will have to move away from a meat-based diet to one more balanced towards plant-based foods, to reduce the impact of climate change and mitigate the risk of crop erosion and nutrient depletion.
The report said a move towards "balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low greenhouse gas emission systems present major opportunities for adaption and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health."
The report said transitions towards low greenhouse gas emissions diets may be influenced by local production practices and Mr McCreath said as a beef farmer he tried to do everything he could to ensure his farm was carbon-neutral, however, there was also a wider plan at work.
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In November, Meat and Livestock Australia announced a bold plan to make the national beef industry carbon neutral by 2030 and there are growing reports that meat-eating and carbon-neutrality do not need to be mutually exclusive terms.
MLA managing director Richard Norton said Australian red meat's reputation was second to none among global consumers, but the industry must keep the focus on changing consumer demands and act on emerging threats and market disruptors to prosper into the future.
Mr Norton said MLA had initiated a project with CSIRO to identify pathways for the red meat industry, farm and processing sector included, to become carbon neutral.
The project has identified a series of innovation and farm management options including the expanded use of legumes and dung beetles in pastures, savannah fire management in northern Australia, feed supplements, feed lotting and vegetation management.
Mr Norton said genetic selection and a potential vaccine to reduce methane production in the rumen could be other opportunities in the pursuit of carbon neutrality.
Where to from here?
Mr McCreath said the federal government had opportunities to create a national strategy for climate change and work with farmers and industry to ensure those carbon targets were met.
He said Tasmania was at risk of bushfires that increase in severity, which could have impacts for farmers in several regions.
"We've already seen with the wine industry, how bushfire smoke can affect taint," Mr McCreath said.
However, initiatives to address climate change in Tasmania should come from a national policy approach.
"We need leadership from this government," he said.
Transitioning away from fossil fuels and investing in cutting emissions are two places we need to see urgent action, Mr McCreath said.
"There should be more done to stop us from bringing fossil fuels up from out of the ground," he said.
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations and is the peak body to provide governments at all levels with scientific information to advise them on policy changes related to climate change.
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