B+LNZ representatives who attended the international climate change conference COP28 report back key takeaways from their time in Dubai.
B+LNZ reps share insights from COP28
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Senior Environment Policy Analyst, Madeline Hall, and Māori Agribusiness Advisor, Charles Taituha, attended the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, representing New Zealand sheep and beef farmers interests.
The significant global climate conference drew over 110,000 attendees (81,000 in person) from across the globe discussing a wide range of issues relating to climate change. It was the largest gathering of its kind ever, with a 50% increase in attendees as compared to last year’s conference in Egypt.
Although the event is perceived as a bit of a talk-fest, it is really important for industries to be present in the room and provide a different voice – especially for red meat where many organisations call for reducing red meat consumption as the best thing individuals can do for the planet. For B+LNZ in particular, it is an opportunity to advance advocacy efforts focused on warming-based targets, establish connections with global allies, and celebrate New Zealand's efficient grass-fed low emissions footprint farming systems.
B+LNZ GM Policy & Advocacy Dave Harrison says it is crucial that when conversations about the impact of livestock on climate change occur, we present a balanced perspective. Equally important is having this message reinforced by other allies at the table.
“New Zealand media tend to portray agriculture as the primary topic of conversation, we know from having staff on the ground and presenting that in fact, fossil fuels was overwhelmingly the main focus,” he says. It is important for us to have this context as we discuss this issue domestically.
Below, Hall shares initial insights from the conference, and panels, that B+LNZ participated in.
It is vital we focus on warming rather than emissions
One of our top priorities for B+LNZ’s conference attendance was to continue to build awareness of the short-lived nature of methane, emphasising that GWP100 is an inadequate metric for measuring its climate impact, and that the focus should be on warming rather than emissions.
There were discussions at COP28 about the need to reduce methane rapidly, with a lot of the focus on addressing leaks and flaring by the oil and gas sector.
We drew on our recent research to demonstrate how New Zealand’s methane targets are too high and that the objective should be on achieving “no additional warming” from methane – which is the same from a climate perspective as net zero for carbon dioxide and stressing the vital importance of food production.
We met with a number of industry groups and scientists from other countries to build their awareness of the science around methane and to encourage them to lobby for this approach in their own countries. If other countries also take this approach, this will help us domestically.
We also discussed concerns about the rapid conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry in the last few years for carbon credits. While we strongly support the integration of trees within farms, which can be a win-win, New Zealand is the only country to allow 100% forestry offsetting in our ETS that has led to too much land-use change happening.
There were similar concerns among pastoral industry in other countries that this will happen in their countries. What was encouraging is that globally there is a lot of disquiet about pines being used to offset emissions, but strong support for the integration of trees within farms as the more favourable approach.
Side event: discussions from global agricultural bodies
Both Hall and Taituha presented at one of the official side events supported by B+LNZ in partnership with Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), the Global Dairy Platform and the Canadian Cattle Association.
A range of speakers from across the world talked about how their livestock sectors, and farmers, are approaching action on climate change.
Hall and Taituha shared how New Zealand is world leading in terms of our efficient pasture production systems and have a very low emissions footprint compared to our competitors.
Taituha underscored the unique challenges and experiences of Māori who make up approximately 15% of NZ’s sheep and beef production and nearly 40% of the meat processing workforce, adding a local perspective to the global dialogue.