View: Farmers are owed duty of care

Alex Gardner

I grew up in Tammin in the Wheatbelt and own a small amount of agricultural land at York (with my wife) and at Tammin.

My day (and often night) job is Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Law at the University of Western Australia. I also hold a legal practice certificate.

Climate change has caused a 27% loss since 1990 of Western Australian wheat production yield potential. (Source.)

This is just one of the many impacts that climate change has already had on Australian agriculture that Dr Steven Crimp mentioned in his keynote address Climate Change Challenges for Australian Agriculture at the UWA Institute of Agriculture 2020 Industry Forum.

I am very concerned about the climate trends, impacts and projections described by WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, in AgZero2030’s submission to the WA Climate Change Policy Consultation, and acknowledged by the WA Government.

I am committed to working to address climate change in accordance with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The first step should be to stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that has occurred over the past decade, especially from major resource projects.

I believe that proponents of large resource projects in Western Australia that will cause a substantial increase in WA’s greenhouse gas emissions owe a duty of care to Western Australian farmers not to increase the State’s greenhouse gas emissions because they know that this would immediately increase global warming and cause harmful climate change impacts in the future.

In September 2020, in my private capacity as a farmer, I lodged appeals against reports of the Environmental Protection Authority of WA on the first two proposals that it has assessed under the April 2020 environmental impact assessment factor guideline for greenhouse gas emissions.

I argue that:

    • the means are available for resource proponents to avoid and offset their greenhouse gas emissions, and
    • the State Government should not approve new proposals that will increase Western Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

I have prepared a note about the grounds of my appeals. What do you think?  Please do contact me with your ideas.

What’s your story?

Do you have or know a good story related to net-zero work and plans in WA’s food and fibre supply chain?

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