Two major new initiatives to address climate change announced

Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald has launched two major new initiatives to address climate change.

Minister Macdonald announced the establishment of an Office for Rural Greenhouse Gas Studies located within the Primary Industries Innovation Centre (PIIC) at Armidale, and released a discussion paper titled "Climate change research priorities for NSW primary industries".

He said work at the Office for Rural Greenhouse Gas Studies will have national and international application and will bolster our capacity to identify solutions to reducing greenhouse gases.

"NSW Department of Primary Industries and University of New England staff will now work under the one umbrella with a united goal.

"These leading scientists will help the State’s primary industries reduce atmospheric carbon levels through industry development, progressive research and by implementing new management techniques.

"The joint effort will also put greater emphasis on the outstanding work that is already being done, as well as attracting new sources of external funding for research and development.

"We already have researchers working on projects including methane reduction from ruminants, low rainfall forestry and carbon sequestration, carbon sequestration under summer/winter response cropping in northwest NSW, and seasonal risk management for primary producers.

"We will target projects to facilitate cellulose breakdown in forest residues and woody weeds as an alternate fuel source."

NSW alone produces 28% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This is largely from the energy sector, transport and agriculture.

"Our research already tells us increased greenhouse gases could potentially alter the ‘planting window’ and length of the growing season, which may restrict planting options, particularly for summer crop species," Mr Macdonald said.

"And irrigated agriculture may be impacted more frequently as a consequence of water shortages.

"It is more important than ever that we work with primary producers to find better ways of working on the land which also help reduce greenhouse gases

Mr Macdonald said the discussion paper "Climate change research priorities for NSW primary industries" is designed to provide advice on research priorities to help primary producers reduce future emissions as well as adapt to any climate variation in which they may have to operate.

"Climatologists project that even if we are successful in halting the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions, some further global warming could occur.

"Reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere is a positive industry development."