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Farmers support Paris commitment despite Trump withdrawal

There was a sense of de ja vu this morning awaking to the news that President Donald Trump had withdrawn United States support for the Paris Climate Accord.

Just like the President’s recoiling from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), with just the flick of a pen, years of negotiation, good will and shear hard work were thrown into uncertainty.

Practically the announcement means the US will end the implementation of carbon reduction targets set under President Obama, which aimed to reduce emissions by 26-28% in a decade. The US will also reconsider all contributions to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund.

President Trump has vowed to pursue a new-amended Paris Accord or a new deal altogether.

About the Agreement

The Paris Climate Accord is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to address with greenhouse gas emissions through mitigationadaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. 

The agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brought all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. No mean feat!

The Paris agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

After the US’s withdrawal there remain 196 parties to the agreement (of which 147 have ratified their support) including Australia. Together these nation’s represent the majority of the global economy.  Check out who is in here.

Australia's role

In Parliament this week, Prime Minister Turnbull reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to the agreement and towards reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 in accordance with the agreement.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg echoed the PM’s sentiments saying Australia took the targets seriously and intended to try and meet them.

Big emitters

In his announcement Mr Trump said he cared deeply about the environment but that the Paris Accord served to ‘punish’ the United States and was ‘unfair’ to his country.

The significance of the States’ walking away from the accord is that, second only to China, the US is the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.  It is also the world’s largest economy.

Yesterday Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed China’s commitment to the deal saying his country would continue to work with the European Union and other countries to uphold it.

What does the farm sector think?

For agriculture climate change represents a serious challenge. Australian farmers have has always operated in a varied and challenging climate. The continued success of the sector depends on its ability to continue to adapt to best manage future climatic risks and to reduce the emissions intensity of production systems.

With this in mind, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has expressed its disappointment following President Trump’s decision.

President Fiona Simson said the NFF supported the Australian Government’s commitment to reducing emissions in accordance with the Paris agreement.

“We were pleased to hear Prime Minister Turnbull reaffirm Australia’s support for the agreement and for reaching the targets set.

“We believe there is great opportunity for Australian agriculture to contribute to our national emissions reduction goals.

“This opportunity requires innovation to reduce the emissions intensity and to enable farmers to efficiently participate in carbon markets,” Ms Simson said.

Read NFF’s Climate Change Policy here.

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