Originally published in The Pyranees Advocate on 2 December 2022

Last month was the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference – often referred to as COP27 – in Egypt.

I want to discuss the climate change solutions put forward at COP27. Because while there is rightly a lot of focus and interest on new technologies as part of addressing climate change, there is so much innovation and many good practices in traditional industries – particularly agriculture and forestry – that will be essential to reducing our emissions.

Entire communities depend on agriculture and forestry, and far too often the climate change conversation feels like city folks – who have often never set foot on a farm or in a mill – talking down to workers and their families in the regions.

We should be proud that Australia’s delegation to COP27 included representatives from the National Farmers’ Federation, the Australian Forestry Products Association, and the CFMEU Manufacturing Division. This shows that the Albanese Labor Government understands that these industries are part of the solution to climate change, and lowering our emissions requires a collaborative approach between government and industry.

Western Victoria red meat and tree farmer Mark Wootton spoke at an event with our delegation where he shared the success story of converting 20 per cent of his land to trees – half for farm forestry and half for biodiversity. The extra shelter from the trees allows the land to carry a far greater number of sheep and cattle, and biodiversity has improved greatly with the number of bird species more than tripling in just over 20 years. And the farm will soon benefit from a major financial gain when the production trees are harvested.

All of these benefits are occurring while at the same time the trees are absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.

Mark’s example should be a real wake-up call that environmental interests and industry interests do not need to be opposed.

The Albanese Labor Government understands this, and we are focused on bringing Australians together to confront big challenges like climate change, not wedging people against each other. I am glad this approach was endorsed and reflected at COP27.