Beef + Lamb New Zealand has released a report on whether changes are needed to the Emissions Trading Scheme and what these should be.
The analysis by New Zealand legal firm Meredith Connell was commissioned before the government released its proposals for consultation. The consulation on potential changes to the ETS closes today.
BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the report will primarily be used to inform BLNZ’s consultation submission on behalf of farmers, along with farmer feedback.
“BLNZ has long argued that action needs to be taken to address the scale and pace of whole farms being sold into forestry as a result of the increasing carbon price and the resulting effects on rural communities,” he said.
“Many farmers also see opportunities to grow their income from carbon revenue from on-farm planting as part of diversifying their farm systems, so there needs to be a balance found in the policy settings. The report supports the need for urgent changes to the ETS, with the introduction of some limits on forestry offsets.”
The report notes that there needs to be a combination of short- and long-term changes to the ETS, he said.
“The focus of the report is on changes to the permanent category of the ETS, as Meredith Connell’s view is that this is an area of the ETS that could be more quickly reformed and that without limits this could also be a category that continues to drive significant land-use change.
“One of the main changes to the permanent category of the ETS it proposes is excluding exotic plantings except in limited circumstances. It notes that in future, however, further changes to the ETS that target other categories are likely to be required.”
McIvor said the report is another example of growing consensus on the need for policy changes to address the issue of wholesale land-use change.
“The scale and pace of land-use change we are currently seeing is far more than what is recommended by the Climate Change Commission and will have a negative impact on rural communities, food production and export income, which affects all New Zealanders.
“New Zealand is one of the only countries in the world that allows fossil fuel emitters to offset 100% of their emissions.”
The report’s authors note: “Forestry offsets are a key component of a scheme designed to enable our country to meet emissions-reduction targets set in legislation. But they are a tool that must be managed in a way that enables sustainable and equitable social, economic and environmental outcomes, for generations to come.”
McIvor said BLNZ will provide the Ministry for the Environment with the Meredith Connell report.
BLNZ has been given an extension to the deadline for submissions on ETS options, to enable detailed board consideration of BLNZ’s submission document before it is provided to the ministry. The final submission document will be published on the BLNZ website when it’s finalised.