Helen Haines MP believes farmers working hard to adapt their farming practices in the face of climate change have moved rapidly to recognise its opportunities.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi  – who is supporting the crossbench in the House of Representatives to call on the Parliament to declare a climate emergency – said farmers knew better than anyone what it meant to live with a changing climate.

“They know that last year was the second warmest and fifth driest year in Australia’s modern history,” she said.

“They also know that climate change presents enormous opportunities.

“In my electorate of Indi, numerous farming communities are developing solar power plants on their land, harvesting the sunshine.

“Many farmers are pursuing and using advanced landcare planning and management strategies.

“Two weeks ago in Myrtleford 60 representatives came together from the North East’s cropping, grazing, viticulture, forestry, horticulture and dairy industries, from state agencies and local councils for an urgent conversation about how we collaborate ensure that agriculture continues to support thriving rural and regional communities.

“New software is available to help farmers see the future of climate effects on their operations.

“A great deal of work is being done to capture carbon on the land – in our soils and trees – that has the potential to generate additional agricultural sector income of $40 billion across the country.

“Declaring a climate emergency means that we’re put a stake in the ground, this day, to say that we will tackle this. We will seize this opportunity. Australian rural communities deserve no less.”

Dr Haines today joins crossbench Members and ANU Climate Change Institute fellow John Hewson AM in Canberra to release the motion which calls on the House to declare an environment and climate emergency.

It asks Parliament to take urgent action on climate change consistent with internationally-accepted science. It also puts to the House that parliamentarians should be able to exercise a free vote so that the motion can pass.

The motion is supported by Rebekha Sharkie MP (Mayo), Andrew Wilkie MP (Clark), Zali Steggall OAM MP (Independent, Warringah) and Adam Bandt MP (Greens, Melbourne.

The move follows similar declarations around the world by 990 jurisdictions – governments in the United Kingdom, France and Canada, city municipalities including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and New York, and rural shires in Australia.

“Climate was an emergency 30 years ago,” Dr Hewson said.

“If this had been recognised at the time, we would already be well past the Paris targets and enjoying many thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of investment, with much lower electricity and gas prices.”

Ms Sharkie said “the science is in, climate change is real and we need urgent sustained and consistent action to address emissions”.

“The last decade of policy uncertainty has been an exercise in absolute frustration. We are reaping what we have sown with our community – especially our young people – fed up with our inability to get on with the job,” she said.

Mr Wilkie said the consequences of inaction were so severe that dealing with the climate-change emergency should be Federal Government’s first priority.

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