Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry

Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry (16Mb Download)

A Discussion Paper

Emissions in the agriculture and forestry sectors in Australia are high and growing. The UNFCCC National Inventory Report suggests that sources of land use emissions, such as land clearing for agriculture and enteric (intestinal) fermentation from digestive processes in livestock, contribute 15% of national emissions. Australia’s land use sector is in a unique position to mitigate (reduce) climate impacts and take a leading role in addressing climate change.

Agriculture and forestry are the only sectors of the Australian economy that can draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by sequestering it in growing plants and in the soil. The agriculture and forestry sectors can mitigate climate impacts on the land, bringing prosperity to rural areas in the process. The ZCA Land Use report explores how this can be done.

The ZCA Land Use Report outlines a range of measures that can substantially reduce emissions and provide opportunities for farmers in building resilience to the impacts of climate change. These measures encompass both agriculture and forestry and address emissions at the scale required to prevent catastrophic climate change.

 The Land Use Report analyses the suite of land use practices in Australia for their function as a source of greenhouse emissions, the potential of the landscape to draw down atmospheric CO2, and the likely impact of changes to land use patterns on local economies. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of how Australia can manage its productive capacity, ecological heritage and ecosystems services for the future.

The ZCA Land Use report is can be ordered via our online shop. It is also available for free download.

Project Participants

The Land Use project has been led by researchers Andrew Longmire, Dr Chris Taylor and Gerry Wedderburn-Bisshop. Volunteers have assisted with modeling agricultural emissions, landscape carbon sequestration potential and the value of agricultural production for the whole continent, using peer-reviewed methodologies.

The Land Use Report is a joint project between Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne's Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI). The project was made possible by the generous support of a private donor and significant additional assistance from MSSI.


The Zero Carbon Australia project

The Zero Carbon Australia Land Use Report is part of the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) project, an exciting initiative of Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Energy Institute and Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. The project provides a road map for the transition to a decarbonised Australian economy on a ten-year time scale.

The complete set of ZCA reports to be produced are:
Report 1: The ZCA Stationary Energy Plan addresses the re-powering of Australia's stationary energy sector with zero emissions technology
Report 2: The ZCA Buildings Plan considers measures to improve energy efficiency, and hence reduce the demand for stationary energy
Report 3: The ZCA Transport Plan is concerned with powering private and public transportation with renewable electricity
Report 4: The ZCA Industrial Processes Plan addresses measures to reduce emissions from industry
Report 5: The ZCA Land Use Report considers changes to agriculture, forestry and other land use practices to minimise emissions.
Report 6: The ZCA Renewable Energy Superpower Plan focuses on Australia's large fossil fuel exports.

The ZCA project consists of a series of inter-related reports, each addressing a specific sector of the economy and source of emissions. Published reports include the ZCA Stationary Energy Plan, the ZCA Buildings Plan and the High Speed Rail report. The ZCA Land Use report is the next to be published, and will be followed by the ZCA Renewable Energy Superpower Plan and the ZCA Electric Vehicles report.