The arbitrary deadline set by the Government for pricing agricultural emissions has no justification given the sector’s progress in reducing emissions and the scale of issues that still need to be addressed, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
“The focus should be on setting up a practical and cost effective emissions measurement and reporting framework, and ensuring issues like sequestration are resolved and there are viable mitigation tools available, before any pricing is considered.
“There is no sound rationale for pricing when the sector is making good progress towards meeting emissions reduction targets,” says Kate Acland, chair of B+LNZ.
“Our sheep and beef farmers are among the most efficient producers in the world. They’ve been reducing emissions by 1 percent annually for the last 30 years so this policy will simply drive down our production and result in other less efficient countries taking our place and pushing up global emissions.
“New Zealand is the first country in the world to seek to price agricultural emissions and there is no blueprint to copy,” says Acland.
“Given that our economy is built around the production and export of food, it is essential we take the time to get this right. Proposing another unjustified cost on the sector when farmers have their backs to wall financially will only hurt rural communities and the economy.
“We acknowledge the Government says it is looking to recognise all on-farm sequestration but have given no assurances this will be in place by the end of 2025. Farmers cannot be required to pay when they are not recognised for their sequestration.
“Climate scientists also accept total methane emissions in New Zealand have been stable and declining for at least the last decade,” she says.
“New Zealand agriculture is also a world leader in emissions efficiency and the Government’s obsession with imposing a price doesn’t reflect the progress that we are all making.”
The MIA, which represents New Zealand’s red meat processors and exporters, is also concerned about the Government’s emissions announcement.
“As one of the world’s most efficient producers of beef and lamb, we’re committed to playing our part so that we can keep producing sustainable and nutritious food that contributes almost $12 billion in exports for the country’s economy,” says Nathan Guy, chair of the MIA.
“Initiatives like the AgriZero partnership between agribusiness and the Government show we are committed to accelerating the reduction of agricultural emissions.
“Although the Government has moved on from the blunt processor levy, the fact that it has taken such a long time to reach a decision that doesn’t meaningfully advance critical issues such as sequestration and viable mitigation tools is extremely disappointing - especially as the ball has been squarely in their court since November last year.
“New Zealanders can and should be proud of our red meat sector. We not only have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, but we are also an economic powerhouse supporting almost 100,000 jobs. Unfortunately, that’s not the message Kiwis will be hearing from today’s announcement.”
Meanwhile, Acland says the Government must also move to reduce the country’s methane targets to reflect the latest science and report on warming in addition to emissions.
“Methane is a short-lived gas, if it is stable or declining its impact on the climate is fundamentally different to carbon dioxide. That’s why it is vital that the Government starts to report on warming as well as emissions so that New Zealanders can understand the difference between methane and carbon dioxide, and therefore the different actions the agricultural sector needs to take.
“While New Zealand has recognised this difference to some extent in having split targets for methane, the targets are too high and are asking agriculture to do far more than its fair share. The targets must be reviewed from a warming perspective and amended before any price is imposed.”
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