Advocacy update: ETS report, climate advice and public campaign

// Climate Change

The following was emailed to farmers on 4 May 2023.

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Today B+LNZ released new research showing New Zealand’s policy of allowing fossil fuel emitters to offset all their GHG emissions by planting trees is at odds with the rest of the world.

This follows recent advice from the Climate Change Commission which vindicates our calls for limits. Our ‘Kiwis Backing Farmers’ campaign is helping to make those calls heard.

New research on emissions trading schemes around the world

  • B+LNZ commissioned the International emissions trading schemes and forestry report to explore the relationship between emissions pricing and forestry in other countries.
  • It’s part of our ongoing advocacy efforts to get the Government to address the issue of wholesale land-use change from sheep and beef farming to exotic forestry driven by carbon offsetting.
  • B+LNZ is not anti-forestry, and agrees there is a place for some carbon offsetting – many of our farmers have trees on their farms and we’re really supportive of the opportunities for further integration of trees. However we have long argued for the Government to change the policy settings that are incentivising whole-farm sales driven by carbon pricing, particularly by placing limits in New Zealand’s ETS on the amount of offsetting fossil fuel emitters can do through the planting of trees.

The research found:

  • New Zealand’s policy of allowing fossil fuel emitters to offset all their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by planting trees is at odds with the rest of the world, and it’s having a damaging impact on the agricultural sector and rural communities.
  • New Zealand is one of only two countries in the world, including Kazakhstan, that allows fossil fuel emitters to offset all their greenhouse gas emissions in their carbon pricing mechanism.
  • The European Union and the UK do not allow carbon offsetting in their ETS, while China, South Korea, and US states Washington, North Carolina and California allow for below five percent.
  • Meanwhile, Mexico and Taiwan, along with Canadian province Quebec, allow for 10 percent and other areas like Tokyo permit up to 33 percent offsetting.
  • Most of these countries also have additional requirements and restrictions with the goal of ensuring any offsets either do not cause harm to other socio economic and environmental outcomes, or go further and require demonstration of co-benefits to the environment.
  • New Zealand has no set targets to reduce emissions from fossil fuel use or any limits on how much offsetting can happen through the ETS to meet climate change targets.
  • New Zealand’s lack of conditions means carbon emitters can keep avoiding the need to cut back on fossil fuel use and instead offset their pollution by using carbon credits generated on farms through the wholesale planting of pine trees.

Access our media release here – this webpage also contains links to a summary report and the full report.

The Climate Change Commission’s recent advice vindicates B+LNZ’s call for limits on offsetting

  • Our report comes less than a week after the Climate Change Commission released its advice on the second emissions budget in which they also called for urgent limits on forestry offsets.
  • The Commission agrees that current policy settings are incentivising over-planting of trees on farmland and that if this is not fixed it will undermine New Zealand meeting its emissions reduction targets effectively, that it could collapse the ETS in the 2030, and would have significant negative consequences for rural communities.
  • Government modelling has also identified agriculture as achieving or even exceeding its sub-sector targets in the 2030s, whilst most other sectors, including transport, risk failing to even achieve a fraction of what they need to do.

Read our full media release here.

Kiwis backing farmers’ campaign helping to keep these issues in the spotlight

  • The issue of wholesale sheep and beef farmland conversion for carbon farming is a key focus of the ‘Kiwis backing farmers’ campaign from B+LNZ and 50 Shades of Green, who we’ve worked with for several years and who share our view that the integration of trees on farms is a better solution.
  • The campaign’s calls are being heard. We reached our target of around 3,000 people emailing politicians by the end of April – if each of those people sent their emails to all nine politicians listed, that represents 27,000 emails in total. We’re also seeing fantastic engagement through the campaign’s social media posts, showing this issue is resonating with the public. This Facebook video post has had nearly 200,000 views, hundreds of shares and 2,300 ‘likes’.
  • The National Party’s first tranche of policy announcements recently pick up some of our recommendations relating to biodiversity and water, though we’d like to see them go further on carbon farming.  
  • We’d still like farmers to make their voices heard, and to encourage friends and families to do the same. If you haven’t already, head to this webpage and send an email now.

I hope you found this update useful. As always, get in touch with any feedback.