Climate Change

    Why we’re heading to COP27  

    COP, or Conference of the Parties, is the United Nations conference on climate change. COP27 will bring together nearly 200 countries as well as observer organisations such as not-for-profits and charities, to present their plans to reduce carbon emissions.  

    The plant science industry is critical in supporting Australia’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The plant science industry develops and manufactures organic, biological and synthetic chemical and biotechnology products, such as pesticides and gene edited crops which improve agricultural sustainability. COP27 is an opportunity for the plant science industry to showcase how its innovations are essential to sustainable farming and land management practices.  

    It is important that Australia’s strengths are highlighted at COP27 – Australian agriculture is vital to both the economy and local communities. Australian farmers demonstrate worlds-best stewardship of their land and surrounding environment. Our national parks and unique biodiversity are treasured by all, including international visitors. And standing right by our farmers and environmental land managers is the plant science industry, providing the tools and innovations needed to support sustainable practices. 

    Climate change and food security    

    Australians enjoy some of the best-quality fresh produce in the world. However, climate and weather variability have major negative implications for food production. Farmers face the need to produce more nutritious food from fewer resources in increasingly unpredictable growing conditions.  

    As custodians of about half of Australia’s landmass, farmers play a crucial role in protecting and managing the environment. Agricultural innovation and plant science technologies support farmers with solutions for sustainable farming practices, reducing ecological footprints while improving food security. 

    However, to achieve sustainable practices, Australian farmers need access to the tools that enable new farming practices and adaptation to a changing climate. Through industry leadership and professional advocacy, CropLife Australia supports a regulatory environment that enables and encourages the plant science industry to provide the innovations that Australia’s farmers and environmental land managers need. 

    The suite of stewardship resources and programs established by CropLife Australia and its members, StewardshipFirst, are specifically designed to help Australian farmers achieve these goals. Australian producers who use industry-led product stewardship initiatives are considered world-leading and set the standard for international agricultural best practice. 

    Finding solutions to climate change through plant science  

    New crop varieties 

    Climate change has major implications for productivity of agricultural crops, creating a need for new crop varieties that are more resilient to drought, flood, salinity, insects and diseases. 

    Despite the remarkable development of new crop varieties that led to the Green Revolution, the accelerating pace and scale of climate change makes it difficult for traditional breeding methods to keep up. 

    CropLife’s member companies invest in the research and development of new breeding technologies like genetic modification and gene editing. These new plant varieties have the potential to remain productive even as new threats emerge. 

    Land conservation 

    Since 1960 food production has quadrupled with negligible increase agricultural land use. Without the innovations of the plant science industry, more land would be required to produce the same amount of food. Plant science technologies, like biotechnology and pesticides increase agricultural productivity while reducing the land-use to conserve native bushland, national parks and forests. 

    Land management 

    Weeds are one of the biggest threats to Australia’s unique biodiversity, costing the nation $200 billion since 1960. Climate change is predicted to exacerbate the pervasiveness of weeds, insect pests and other plant diseases in agriculture, national parks and public spaces.  

    The development of new and more effective crop protection products will be crucial to the preservation of Australia’s native flora and fauna.  

    Reduced greenhouse gas emissions 

    Tillage practices in Australia have dramatically changed over the years. In fact, the Australian agriculture industry’s adoption of no-till practices has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by storing more carbon in soils. With investment into innovative emissions reductions practices and technologies, herbicides has played a key role in enabling no-till farming. 

    The reduction of soil disturbance compared with traditional ploughing methods, has additional environmental benefits including: 

    • greater water-use efficiency 
    • improved soil water holding capacity 
    • reduced soil erosion 
    • enhanced nutrient retention and availability 
    • development of agricultural soil as a net carbon sink. 

    Product stewardship 

    The safe and sustainable use of crop protection products is paramount. For this reason, CropLife and its members support and adhere to the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations. This Code specifies obligations about the stewardship of agricultural chemicals throughout their lifecycle, from innovation, discovery and development, through to ultimate disposal of waste.  

    CropLife members are also bound by a mandatory code of conduct and participate in the world leading StewardshipFirst program. 

    StewardshipFirst includes strategies for: 

    • pesticide resistance management 
    • pollinator protection 
    • spray drift mitigation 
    • safety training and information for those who manufacture, supply or sell pesticides or biotechnology products 
    • end of life product collection and container recycling.