Friday, December 8, 2023

Election 2023: Reducing agricultural emissions

Neal Wallace
Farmers Weekly asks New Zealand’s six biggest parties to spell out their policies for the primary sector.
MyFarm executive chair Grant Rowan says the New Zealand dairy industry is well set up to become an international leader in the production of food with low carbon emissions.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Farmers Weekly asked the six parties currently represented in Parliament four questions. Five replied. Te Pati Māori did not respond. 

Today’s question: What is your party’s policy to reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions? 

We’ve worked with the sector through He Waka Eke Noa to incentivise farmers to reduce their emissions. The system takes on all the aspects that the sector asked for and will position us for growth in export value. Aspects of the system include: 

• Lowest price possible.

• Split gas approach.

• Farm-level recognition.

• Levy funds ring-fenced for farmers to drive the development of tools.

• Scientifically validated sequestration to be recognised in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

• Reporting in Quarter 4 2024.

• Levy in place in Quarter 4 2025.

National has a fully developed plan to reduce agricultural emissions by giving farmers the tools they need: 

• End the effective ban on GE and GM technologies.

• Farm-level emissions measurement by 2025.

• Continued sector-led investment in research and development to reduce on-farm greenhouse gases.

• Full recognition of on-farm sequestration on a robust, scientific basis. 

 Fair and sustainable pricing of on-farm emissions by 2030:

• Split gas approach to keep agriculture out of the ETS. 

• Prices set to reduce emissions without sending agricultural production overseas. 

• Review methane targets for consistency with no additional warming from agriculture.

ACT would scrap the Zero Carbon Act and tie any emissions price to that of our five main trading partners with the caveat that if farmers in countries who are our biggest trading partners are not paying a price for their methane emissions, neither should New Zealand farmers. 

We would implement a genuine split gas approach, acknowledging the fundamental difference between methane from livestock (a short-lived greenhouse gas) and carbon dioxide (a near permanent greenhouse gas). 

And we would remove barriers stalling the uptake of emissions-reducing technologies and ensure farmers can offset all on-farm sequestration from their emissions liability.

We can have a thriving, sustainable farming sector that tackles the climate crisis, prioritises mātauranga food production, helps rural communities flourish, cleans up our rivers, and makes sure we all have fresh and healthy food to eat.

But for decades, successive governments have treated farms like factories. Industrial agriculture is our biggest climate polluter, it is making our rivers and lakes sick, and family-run businesses have been replaced by corporate farms. 

We’ll tackle this through:

• Supporting the development and leadership of indigenous agricultural practices through organisations such as Te Waka Kai Ora.

• Introducing dual cap-and-trade schemes for methane and nitrous oxide, to ensure methane reduction targets are met, with the market setting a price, and all re-investment going into on-farm emissions reduction. 

• Increasing support for farmers to transition to more sustainable forms of agricultural production through finance mechanisms such as low-interest loans and grants.

• Phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use in Aotearoa to protect the health of our waterways and reduce emissions.

• Banning palm kernel expeller and ensuring all supplementary feed is sustainably sourced and does not enable intensive farming beyond the carrying capacity of the local environment.

New Zealand First
We do not support taxing livestock emissions and making the sheep and beef sector in particular the sacrificial lamb of New Zealand climate change policy. Government policy signalling a reduction of sheep and beef numbers by 20% will not happen on our watch. 

The Paris Accord explicitly protects food production. He Waka eke Noa modelling has proven that it impossible to have a price on methane that would be equitable across sectors and, unlike other industries, farmers do not have the ability to pass costs on. 

We do however support a standardised on-farm recording mechanism as a basis for gradually declining our greenhouse gas emissions. We have customer pressure to reduce GHG’ and we would be loath to ignore this. 

We see government supporting the uptake of mitigations such as low-methane genetics and to support those processors seeking to respond to customer pressure and reduce Scope 3 emissions. A prerequisite for processor access to government carbon reduction funding would be having a credible Scope 3 emissions reduction strategy. We see a commercial solution to this issue, not a tax. 

In regard to methane reduction targets, we will await the pending Climate Change Commission report, which will include access to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings on this matter.

Read the previous article here.

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