The Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on the second emissions budget vindicates Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and other farmer group calls for urgent limits on the ability of fossil fuel emitters to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees on productive farmland.
“The Climate Change Commission rightly points out that the 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 and also have significant negative consequences for rural communities,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.
“B+LNZ has said for a long time that there is a place for forestry in meeting New Zealand’s climate change commitments. The integration of trees within farms could be a win-win and go some way towards meeting New Zealand’s climate change objectives, whilst maintaining a vibrant and profitable red meat sector.
“But the wholesale conversion of productive sheep and beef farms into carbon farms is a significant problem with fossil fuel emitters simply offsetting and not doing enough to use the currently available tools to reduce their emissions in the first place.
“New Zealand is an outlier internationally when it comes to allowing forestry offsetting in our emissions trading scheme and we will shortly be releasing a report that highlights this disparity and reinforces the need for urgent change.
“The red meat sector is also one of the few parts of the economy that has been doing the heavy lifting in reducing emissions. The sector has cut its gross emissions by 30 percent since 1990 and has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. We’ve invested millions in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions like low methane sheep.
“The native vegetation on our farms is also absorbing and retaining significant amounts of carbon.
“The Climate Change Commission has outlined a range of options for addressing issues relating to offsetting, including introducing gross targets for CO2 as New Zealand currently have for methane, and for meeting New Zealand’s emissions reductions goals. We will be studying these closely.
“Ultimately, the emissions trading scheme needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency. *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,” says McIvor.
“It is good that the Climate Change Commission has also reiterated its support for a farm level system for managing agricultural emissions.
“However, there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done to set up a credible measurement and reporting system, which would be the first in the world.
“We strongly recommend focusing on getting this set up and working properly, but not introducing a price until sequestration and mitigation issues have been worked through. This is too important to rush.
“The Climate Change Commission will also potentially be recommending a review of the methane targets later this year. This is something we will be engaging in closely to ensure that the methane targets are based on the latest science, which shows that New Zealand’s current methane targets disproportionately ask more of methane than CO2 from a climate perspective.”
For more information, please contact James Ford on 027 235 9806 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*This comment previously attributed these findings to the Climate Change Commission. This was incorrect and we apologise for the error.