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Optimism prevails at climate talks

Tuesday, 15th December, 2015

Anika Molesworth, of Rupee Station, came home from Paris yesterday. Today she will graduate with a Masters degree in Sustaintable Agriculture. For her degree, Anika specialised in climate change in South East Asia and investigated how poor farmers were adapting to the floods and drought that are becoming more frequent. Anika Molesworth, of Rupee Station, came home from Paris yesterday. Today she will graduate with a Masters degree in Sustaintable Agriculture. For her degree, Anika specialised in climate change in South East Asia and investigated how poor farmers were adapting to the floods and drought that are becoming more frequent.

By Craig Brealey

A young farmer from Broken Hill was in Paris last weekend when the world’s leaders finally agreed to do something concrete about climate change.

Anika Molesworth, from Rupee Station, was not just visiting the City of Lights, she was an actual participant in the historic United Nations Climate Conference.

Exactly one month earlier, a handful of terrorists in Paris had tried to divide humanity but this time, Anika said, thousands of people from around the world went there to save it.

“I don’t think I’ve seen so many police in my life,” she told the BDT soon after getting off the plane yesterday.

“But people had gone there for a reason, and that was to make sure we got strong action on climate change.

“There was a real sense of optimism. Despite the terrorist attacks, people had come together to seek a solution and to work for something good for humanity and all of the planet.”

At the conference, the world’s leaders agreed to try and stop the temperature of the Earth from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Anika described this as a great result because no-one had expected the agreement to be that bold.

It was also the first climate conference at which agriculture had been discussed, said Anika who works with her parents on the family’s sheep station.  

Her father, Simon Molesworth, was the driving force behind Broken Hill being named Australia’s first Heritage City this year. 

Anika and another young farmer, Josh Gilbert from a cattle farm near Nabiac, NSW raised the money to travel to Paris by “crowdfunding”, which is a way of raising contributions via the internet.

“All around the world farmers are being impacted and we heard how they were adapting to the changing climate,” she said.

“I feel very lucky to be a farmer in Australia.

“In Kenya and Ethiopia they are struggling to feed their families because of the drought. They don’t have the financial resources or a stable social system to help them adapt.

“In a poor season, people go hungry.”

But Australia’s climate was perfectly suited to solar and wind-generated power and farmers could lead the way towards renewable energy.

“There is so much potential in Australia with the sun, the wind and the huge expanses of land. 

“It is also an alternative and steady source of income for farmers who are already working with the environment and looking after the land for the next generation. They want to pass it on in the best condition possible.”

At Rupee Station, solar panels had been put up “pretty much all over the homestead roof”, said Anika, and this had cut the power bills by 70 per cent.

“We use whatever we can. The rest goes into the grid.”

But the power companies had to offer a better feed-in tariff to make it more attractive to the general public, she said. The cost of the solar panels also had to come down.

Rupee also ran Dorper sheep, “an African breed that does really well in the dry inland,” Anika said.

Burning coal was still the cheapest way of producing electricity so Australia had not only to cut its emissions but to invest in cleaner, cheaper and more reliable sources of alternative energy.

“Innovation, new technology, new jobs and agriculture is a big part of the solution and we can help by leading the way and championing renewables. 

“Our farmers are already adapting.”

The nation, on the other hand, was lagging well behind most of the developed world in moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.

“We are one of the last OECD countries, only above Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. It’s embarrassing because we have so much potential.”

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