Drought-stricken farmers challenge Coalition's climate change stance in TV ad

Drought-stricken farmers challenge Coalition's climate change stance in TV ad

‘We need to stick to the Paris agreement, we need to stop burning coal and we need to commit to more renewable energy,’ Longreach farmer says

Longreach sheep and cattle farmer Jody Brown features in the new Australian Conservation Foundation ad about drought and climate change.

“This drought has really hit our family hard,” says Longreach farmer Jody Brown. “Climate change is making the droughts more severe.”

Those two sentences are the opening lines to a new advertisement challenging the federal government’s stance on climate change and the drought in Australia’s eastern states.

The 30-second ad will begin airing on commercial channels this week and will be beamed into politically important suburban areas of Australia’s three largest capital cities during the NRL grand final on 30 September.

The advertisement has been paid for by the Australian Conservation Foundation and features Brown, a sheep and cattle farmer who runs a 45,000 acre property 65km south of Longreach in central west Queensland.

Brown is a fourth-generation grazier whose family property has been affected by drought.

In the clip, she calls for “politicians to stop dancing around the issue and help us to do something about this”.

“We need to stick to the Paris agreement, we need to stop burning coal and we need to commit to more renewable energy,” she says.

The campaign comes after the prime minister, Scott Morrison, described the drought as his highest priority but said the conversation about the connection between drought and climate change should be left “for another day”.

Last week hundreds of farmers and their supporters rallied outside Parliament House in Canberra demanding action on climate change.

Farmers for Climate Action board member and third-generation NSW farmer Peter Holding told the crowd that praying for rain – referencing comments by Morrison earlier this month – “is not going to cut it”.

Brown said she had become increasingly disappointed at Canberra’s unwillingness to discuss the current drought in the context of climate change.

“I think no matter where you stand or what your perspective is, droughts are part of a climate and you can’t separate those two issues,” she said.

“If you’re going to be serious about supporting farmers through drought and adapting to drought-stricken conditions, you need to be talking about climate change.”

She said many farmers were already changing their practices to try to adapt to warmer temperatures.

“It’s not going to work for everyone but there are some interesting management solutions out there,” she said. “These are the kinds of things I’d like to see governments working on as well.”

Kelly O’Shanassy, the chief executive of theAustralian Conservation Foundation, said Australia could no longer put off talking about how climate change is making extreme weather events worse.

“We are launching this TV ad to try prompt the national discussion our prime minister doesn’t seem to want to have,” she said.

“Farmers, along with many others in our community, are on the frontline of climate damage. We must have their backs. Inaction on climate change both here and abroad has real-world implications for the safety and productivity of our country.”

A poll published last week showed the Morrison government is politically vulnerable on climate policy, with a growing number of Australians saying they are concerned about climate change and want action.

The prime minister has declared Australia will not pull out of Paris but also abandoned the national energy guarantee that imposed an emissions reduction target on the electricity sector.

New data published by NDEVR Environmental on Friday shows Australia is on track to miss its Paris targets, and the country’s emissions, excluding land use data, were the highest on record for the third year running.