Australian agriculture now has a common framework for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, helping support sector-level baselines, reporting and communication of a united Australian narrative around emissions.
Launched today, the Common Approach to GHG Accounting for Australian Agriculture framework provides best practice guidance for sector-level accounting and can be used to steer improvements in data collection and reporting over time.
Development of the framework was facilitated by Agricultural Innovation Australia (AIA) and was produced by a research consortium led by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.
AIA CEO, Sam Brown, said that prior to the commencement of this project, no national guidance for agricultural sector-level GHG accounting within Australia existed.
“Through this project, we now have an agreed standard protocol for GHG emissions accounting and a shared understanding of terminology," Mr Brown said.
"This provides agriculture with a strong foundation to enhance consistency, transparency and confidence in its GHG reporting and communications,” he said.
The project brought together technical experts, Australia’s rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs)*, and several state government departments, to achieve consensus on general principles that could be broadly applied across agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
CSIRO Life Cycle Assessment expert, Dr Maartje Sevenster, led a project team consisting of experienced GHG emissions researchers across various agricultural sectors.
“It was a highly collaborative project, involving participants across many organisations," Dr Sevenster said.
"Working together with the RDCs, we developed an approach for quantifying sector level GHG emissions from agricultural industries, as well as a common language document to define many commonly used GHG emissions terms.
“Importantly, whilst the framework is based on shared key principles, it also allows for a modular approach that acknowledges potential differences between certain agricultural industries," she said.
The framework describes how accounting can be undertaken to generate a transparent and trusted inventory of emissions based on a consistent set of principles, that aligns as much as possible with widely accepted, international frameworks and standards and general guidance on data collection and quality.
Mr Brown said that this was a ‘missing piece’, which can help Australian agriculture demonstrate its contributions to national climate commitments and sustainability goals.
“This project enables a sector-wide baseline for agriculture to be set and methods for commodity-specific GHG baselines to be defined, against which progress can be monitored," Mr Brown said.
“It will also help Australia have a united voice in international market access discussions on approaches and tools that adequately reflect Australian conditions," he said.
Several RDCs are already positioning their commodity-specific projects to align with the Common Approach or cross-checking existing methods with the guidance that has been developed.
Wine Australia’s R&D Program Manager, Dr Sharon Harvey, said that the project outputs are already being incorporated into the RDC’s initiatives.
“Our upcoming Emissions Reduction Roadmap was in development at the same time this project was underway. We were so pleased with the standard of the outputs coming out of the Common Approach work, that we made sure they were incorporated into the roadmap project for the grape and wine sector," Dr Harvey said.
Read the Project Overview and Non-Technical Summary document
Read the Common Terminology document
Read the Methods & Data Guidance document
* About rural Research and Development Corporations
AIA’s founding members are Australia’s 15 rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), which span the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.
RDCs have helped drive agricultural innovation since 1989, by enabling the Australian government and primary producers to co-invest in research and development.
Establishing AIA enabled the RDCs to collectively invest in the big, cross-sectoral issues and take a whole-of-sector approach to innovation.
RDCs include AgriFutures Australia, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Australian Pork, Australian Eggs, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Forest & Wood Products Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Hort Innovation, LiveCorp, Meat & Livestock Australia, Sugar Research Australia and Wine Australia.