New Zealand’s targets for biogenic methane emissions reduction are set by the Zero Carbon Act. Since the Act was passed in 2019, B+LNZ has repeatedly said we don’t agree with the targets and has advocated for better measurement and reporting.
In the lead-up to the COP26 United Nations climate change conference, which starts on Sunday (31 October) we’ve upped our advocacy efforts.
You may have seen our recent e-diary story about this, outlining how we worked with Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to push strongly for New Zealand’s negotiating mandate to focus on warming and to promote the use of more appropriate metrics such as GWP*.
This is part of a wider strategy to keep the issue of warming and metrics in the public spotlight.
We’re trying to build public understanding and have spent many hours educating reporters and influencers on this topic. We recently provided an opinion editorial in the NZ Herald that sets out our position, and following discussions about our position with journalists, there was good coverage of the issues on Stuff and in a Newsroom editorial for subscribers.
Another part of our strategy is using independent research. We’re hoping to release a major report by AgResearch in the next month that calculates the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef and lamb using GWP* and sequestration. We’re also looking into another piece of research that models the warming impact of all agriculture over the last couple of decades compared to carbon dioxide, and to compare the expected additional warming that will be contributed by agriculture if we have to meet 24–47 percent reduction targets compared to net zero for carbon dioxide by 2050. We’ll be using this to argue for the targets to be reviewed and for fairer targets.
And finally, we’ve also had numerous meetings with the likes of the Climate Change Commission, academics and officials to raise GWP* and warming.
The good news is that it’s getting slightly easier to have these conversations. Since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, setting out the latest climate change science from around the world, people are now more receptive to the science and to our arguments.
Our overall aim is to ensure that this science is used when the Government reviews the biogenic methane targets in 2024. We’re working towards this milestone and will keep farmers updated on our advocacy efforts.
Backgrounder: why we don’t agree with the targets
Measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions (and the setting of targets) is currently done using the GWP100 metric. As shown by the IPCC report, the GWP* metric is more appropriate because it better reflects the warming impacts of short-lived greenhouse gases like methane.
The IPCC has made it clear that the target of a 10 percent reduction in methane by 2030, and 24-47 percent methane reduction targets by 2050, is inappropriate given what we know about how methane behaves in the atmosphere.
These targets are asking the agricultural sectors to do more than others currently reliant on fossil fuels. If we stick with the Government’s current targets, our actions would have a cooling, rather than warming, effect.