Ministers welcome scientific progress in cutting agricultural greenhouse gases
Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have welcomed news of a breakthrough by New Zealand researchers which offers the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent without cutting production.
This breakthrough in methane inhibitors was made by researchers working through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.
“Livestock methane is New Zealand’s single largest greenhouse gas emissions source, making up 35 percent of our total emissions in 2013,” says Mr Groser.
“This is why the Government is investing around $10m annually in research for new agricultural mitigation technologies through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.”
“New Zealand is also one of the leading countries in the 45 country-strong Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), to which we have committed $45m out to 2019.
“New Zealand’s funding and collaboration with Australia, Japan and the United States under the GRA has had a real impact in making this breakthrough.”
“Currently, there are no options available to directly reduce livestock methane emissions other than reducing stock numbers, making it particularly challenging to reduce emissions from this sector,” says Mr Guy.
“Being able to produce food sustainably is critical to the New Zealand economy and to help feed a growing global population.
“We are now seeing the Government’s commitment to research in this area begin to bear fruit.
“If successfully developed and commercialised, the new findings offer the potential to fundamentally change New Zealand’s emissions footprint in the long-term. It could also provide a technology with substantial value for tackling global agricultural emissions.
“There is still work to do to develop a safe, commercially-viable solution. The substances developed are non-toxic, but researchers now need to establish if they are effective over the long-term without adverse side-effects on animals, and ensuring food safety. This process could take at least five years, but we are on the right track,” says Mr Guy.