Controlling invasive species can help achieve emission targets

EFFECTIVE management of feral animals can play a part in achieving net-zero emissions in Australia by 2050, according to the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

The announcement comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this year issued a report recommending direct, serious measures to slow global carbon emissions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in August the report “must sound a death knell” for fossil fuel use and is “code red” for humanity.

CEO of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) Andreas Glanznig said controlling rabbits, feral goats and camels at scale has the potential to make a significant contribution to emission reduction targets.

“The cost to Australia from invasive species is staggering, it’s over $25 billion a year; the annual cost to agriculture is more than $6 billion,” Mr Glanznig said.

“These costs are rising and will continue to rise into the future without effective interventions that will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the resilience of landscapes, ecosystems and threatened species.”

In preparation for the upcoming Glasgow UN Climate Change Conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor this week released Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan (the Plan), to deliver net-zero emissions by 2050.

Between 2005 and 2021, Australia’s emissions fell by 20.8 per cent, outpacing the reductions of the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

The most recent forecast shows Australia will cut emissions by up to 35 per cent by 2030.

“Australia now has a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and we have a clear plan for achieving it,” the Prime Minister said.

“The Plan outlines responsible, practical action to achieve net-zero that is in our national interest.”

However, Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie has levelled serious criticism at the Federal Government’s plan.

“Net-zero by 2050 is a joke without strong emissions cuts this decade,” Ms McKenzie said.

”Australia desperately needs to dramatically scale up renewable energy, phase out coal and gas and electrify our transport systems.

“Otherwise, we miss out on the economic opportunities of the global transition and expose ourselves to the fire, flood and heat risks of climate change.”

Environmental management plans such as that released by the CISS present long-term offsets to carbon emissions.

Mitigating the impact of feral herbivores on native vegetation, native grasses, shrubs and young trees will act as a more effective carbon sink, according to research by the CISS.

“We know that rabbits will develop resistance to biocontrol agents over time, so our pipeline strategy is really important to delivering new biocontrol measures, as and when they’re needed,” Mr Glanznig said.

“Australia also needs to back potential game-changing technologies, such as research into the application of genetic biocontrol technologies to suppress vertebrate pest populations.”

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Elliot Goodyer

Elliot is a freelance print and radio journalist with a passion for experimental radio fiction, podcasting and international affairs.

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