Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NZ farmers on top of their emissions numbers

Neal Wallace
More than 90% of dairy and livestock producers have done the calculations on greenhouse gas emissions from their farms.
12.05.2023 Magic’s DairyNZ catchment project launch in Tokoroa. Mandatory Photo Credit ©Michael Bradley.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

More than 90% of sheep and beef farmers and 95% of dairy farmers know the volume of greenhouse gas emissions from their farms, ahead of new rules that require banks to report such data.

From the 2024 financial year, banks and financial institutions are required by the government to disclose the effects climate change may have on their business as well as the effects their business is having on the climate.

This includes emissions from their clients, but the exact specifics of the information required depends on the individual bank.

These annual climate-related disclosures can vary between an absolute emissions reduction target and a physical intensity emissions target.

The Farmers Weekly asked New Zealand’s five largest banks what they will require from their farmer-clients.

BNZ’s Agribusiness manager Dave Handley said in line with the Zero Carbon Act, BNZ has started disclosing decarbonisation targets it has set.

“We published our first set of targets in May, covering a range of industries including dairy. Further targets for sectors such as real estate, transport, and sheep and beef will be published next year.”

Handley said the targets it will publish will vary between absolute emissions reduction and a physical intensity emissions target.

“BNZ’s dairy target specifically focuses on emissions intensity associated with each kilo of milk solids produced, not absolute reductions.

“Recognising the dairy sector’s crucial role in NZ’s economy, our aim is to encourage growth in the sector by aiding it to become more efficient and sustainable, producing more with fewer emissions.”

A Rabobank spokesperson said from the 2024 year, it has to report emissions, including those from farmer and grower clients.

“Rabobank must disclose its own greenhouse gas mitigation and climate adaptation transition plan by April 2025, which will contain references to helping clients mitigate their emissions.”

An ANZ spokesperson said it is collating emissions to all sectors it provides finance to.

The banker to more than 34% of NZ’s farmers, it is focusing on gaining a deeper understanding of climate risk to the sector.

Westpac’s NZ head of agribusiness, Tim Henshaw, said earlier this year it began collecting emissions data from farmers and sources such as dairy processors and industry assurance programmes.

It plans to publicly release an on-farm mitigation report with Journeaux Economics that models greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios.

ASB head of rural bank Aidan Gent said the bank does not view agricultural emissions in isolation, but as part of the farm’s overall performance and efficiency. 

“The drivers that are good for emission reductions on farm are exactly the same drivers of financial and productivity.”

To view them otherwise will lead to a focus on planting trees and reducing stock numbers.

All banks are offering sustainability loans for investment in projects that reduce the environmental footprint of farmers and growers.

These include reducing emissions but also projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable land and water use, green building projects and clean transport.

Dave Harrison, Beef + Lamb NZ’s policy and advocacy manager, said as of August 31 nearly 9500 sheep, beef and deer farmers know their emissions number, some assisted by the organisation having held more than 300 emissions calculator and action plan workshops.

This represents more than 90% of sheep and beef farmers.

There are 11 calculators available for farmers to determine their emissions, and Harrison said there needs to be a common set of accounting rules to make this as simple as possible for farmers.

“The emphasis needs to be placed on getting greenhouse gas reporting consistent and aligned to market needs.”

DairyNZ sustainable dairy manager David Burger said in addition to the 10,568 dairy farmers who know their greenhouse gas number, 55% of them have a plan to manage those emissions and 77% have Freshwater Farm Plans.

This has all been achieved ahead of regulation deadlines.

He said most dairy farmers receive emissions information from their dairy company but it is also available from Overseer or FARMAX nutrient budgets.

Burger said farmers need to identify options for managing emissions and document them in a plan that must be in place by January 1, 2025. 

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