Snowy Valleys the ‘poster boy’ for net zero emissions target

Renewable industries like Snowy Hydro make the Snowy Valleys the most environmentally sustainable area in the country, according to the mayor James Hayes.

Snowy Valleys Mayor James Hayes believes the Snowy Valleys LGA is well positioned to help Australia reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Federal Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said on Wednesday that the Australian Government is committed to achieving net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050.

But the government is yet to adopt an official target.

Cr Hayes believes the Snowy Valleys is already well on the way to helping the country reach this target.

“We are the most environmentally sustainable local government area in Australia,” he said.

“We’ve got Snowy Hydro, the Snowy 2.0 project, the carbon sequestration of forestry plantations and national parks, and Visy, one of the premier recyclers in Australia,” he said.

“I think we are the poster boy for net zero emissions.”

He supports the government’s plan.

“I’d like people to have the same opportunities as I have had, and not have a problem with climate,” he said.

Tumut Plains dairy farmer Kevin Malone said there was no doubt that people have to reduce their emissions as best they can.

“There are some industries that can do it more easily than others,” he said.

“So much of farming revolves around the use of fuel, and how farmers are meant to reduce fuel use is certainly going to be a challenge.”

However, he said the industry has to find a way.

“In the past, farmers have made huge gains in reducing fuel use by using chemical tillage,” he said.

“Hopefully newer technology will come into play to allow us to reduce fuel use or use some of our equipment more efficiently.

“In the cattle industry at the moment there is research being done to utilise seaweed, which would reduce the methane produced by cattle, which is a greenhouse gas.”

He said many farmers were putting in solar panels, but also that there needed to be more financial incentives.

“They are putting cheaper electricity into the grid and this should be reflected in cheaper power costs,” he said.

Mr Malone supports the plan for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“You’ve got to have goals,” he said.

“You are better off setting them high, and even if you narrowly miss them, it is still better than setting low goals and achieving them. You’ve got to set the goal posts high and see how you go.”

He is aware that different types of farmers would be affected differently by trying to achieve such goals.

“Each farming enterprise has a different carbon footprint, and for some, it may not be as easy to reduce it as for others,” he said.

“We have to be a bit more tactical.”

He concedes his type of farming has one of the larger footprints

“The dairy cattle industry is a fairly big user of electricity, but this is essential to maintain the quality and safety standard that people require,” he said.

Adjungbilly cattle farmer and contractor Jock Mason wants more information before making a judgement on carbon emission targets.

“I think at this stage we know very little,” he said.

“Most are willing to accept that this (cutting carbon emissions) is the way to go, but we have been given very little information on what it’s going to cost. I have heard that it could be $200 per cow, but I think that is an airy-fairy figure.

“There is a lack of information about what the true cost of this is going to be.”

Tumut agronomist Nathan Ferguson says sound farming practice maintains or builds soil carbon.

“The emphasis has to be on sound agronomic practices, like regular soil testing and replacing nutrients removeable via grazing animals or harvestable crops,” he said.

“You have to replace more than you take out.  

Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr will hold a zero emissions webinar on October 28 between 6 and 7pm.   

Meanwhile, Mr Taylor said the government was taking practical action to achieve the 2050 goal. 

“We are doing everything we can to support businesses to reduce their emissions in a manner that doesn’t compromise their competitiveness,” he said.

“It’s at the heart of the government’s ‘technology not taxes’ approach; an approach that centres on reducing emissions without imposing new financial burdens.

“Because climate change is a global problem, we need to make net zero practically achievable for all countries.

“So we are focused on getting low emissions energy sources to commercial parity with high-emitting alternatives.

“Once this happens, countries won’t have to choose between growth and decarbonisation.”