INDEPENDENT NEWS

Methane target could be catastrophic - Shareholders' Council

Published: Wed 17 Jul 2019 04:26 PM
By Rebecca Howard
July 17 (BusinessDesk) - The government's proposed 2050 methane reduction target could be "catastrophic" for New Zealand unless there is a major scientific breakthrough in the meantime, the Fonterra Shareholders' Council says.
The Climate Change Response Amendment Bill proposes that gross emissions of biogenic methane be cut by 24 percent to 47 percent below 2017 levels by 2050.
The council says a gross target, requiring a reduction in absolute emissions, is not appropriate. Nor is its scale reasonable.
“A target which potentially requires almost half of the livestock farming sector to disappear within 30 years would necessitate a rate of change which does not represent a fair and just transition for rural New Zealand,” the council says in a submission on the bill.
In 2017, New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions were equivalent to 80,853 kilotonnes carbon dioxide. Of that 42 percent was methane.
While the bill proposes a 24 percent to 47 percent methane reduction by 2050, it also includes an interim requirement to reduce emissions to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2030.
The council accepts the 2030 target but says a 47 percent methane reduction by 2050 would require an approximately proportional reduction in the number of ruminants - mostly cows, sheep, goats and deer - by then.
Such an outcome would be "catastrophic for the livestock production sector, rural New Zealand and the New Zealand economy as a whole."
It says an appropriate biogenic methane reduction target for 2050 should be up to 24 percent less than 2017 levels.
The target should also be based on net emissions. It said a gross target could distort the carbon market and could lead to perverse outcome where the livestock sector is required to reduce absolute emissions rather than use economically viable offsets which might be available in 2050.
The council also called on the government to commit the resources necessary to ensure the country's scientists remain at the forefront of research into methods to reduce biological emissions from farmed ruminants.
New Zealand stands to make an enormous contribution on the research and development front whereas “even if we totally dismantle our livestock farming sector, the effect on global climate change would be negligible,” it said.
“Our livestock numbers form only a tiny fraction of the 1.6 billion cattle, 1.4 billion sheep and 1.2 billion goats farmed globally. However, we have a scientifically advanced agricultural economy. The world will be watching for our response to the issue.”
Separately, Fonterra Cooperative Group said that while it supports the 2030 target for a 10 percent biogenic methane reduction, the 2050 target would be "extremely challenging."
It also supports a 2050 methane target that is provisionally set at up to a 24 percent net reduction from 2017 levels. Regular reviews of this target must be based on scientific and economic analysis, it said.
Submissions on the bill closed yesterday.
BusinessDesk
Independent, Trustworthy New Zealand Business News
The Wellington-based BusinessDesk team provides a daily news feed for a serious business audience.
Contact BusinessDesk
Email:

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Australian bushfires continue to blaze – Expert Reaction
By: Science Media Centre
Higher retail consumption lifts GDP
By: Statistics New Zealand
Fairer pay with minimum wage rise for quarter of a million
By: New Zealand Government
Tourism and Environment: Pristine, popular... imperilled?
By: Parliamentary Commissioner For The Environment
Gordon Campbell on the Aussie bush fires and Suleimani
By: Gordon Campbell
Bushfire Crisis: Climate Politics Turning Point Aus Needs?
By: The Conversation
Scott Morrison: the bushfires demand a climate policy reboot
By: The Conversation
Incendiary Extinctions: Australian Fires
By: Binoy Kampmark
Aussie bushfire smoke reaches NZ – update 2nd Jan 2020
By: NIWA
2019 NZ's fourth warmest year on record - Expert Reaction
By: Science Media Centre
2019 second hottest year on record, UN confirms
By: UN News
Fossil Fuel Companies Called On To Foot Australia Fires Bill
By: Eoin Higgins
GDP growth reflects a strong economy
By: New Zealand Government
NZ in ‘GDP per person recession’ under Labour
By: New Zealand National Party
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media