Federated Farmers is heartened that impacts on the economy, and the difference between short and long-lived greenhouse
gases, are becoming more prominent topics in our discussions about global warming and climate change.
Some of the choices and challenges in front of New Zealand get an airing in the Ministry for the Environment’s
consultation document on the Zero Carbon Bill, the Federation’s Climate Change spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says.
"It’s a positive that the ‘Our Climate, Your Say’ document, released today, recognises that methane from livestock is a
recycling, not accumulating, greenhouse gas. Methane has a half-life of around 12 years, whereas carbon dioxide stays in
the atmosphere for hundreds of years.
"The alternatives the Ministry has called for feedback on includes the valid and practical option of stabilising
emissions of short-lived gases, including methane, while pushing for net zero long-lived gases, including nitrous oxide,
by 2050," Andrew said.
"Keep in mind that since 1990 the amount of methane produced by New Zealand agricultural livestock has only increased by
4-5%, but carbon dioxide from transport has risen by 82%."
The report notes that Kiwi farmers have responded to constant land use and other change over the past years and, as a
result, our agriculture sector is considered leading edge, globally. New Zealand’s world-leading research into reducing
emissions on our farms is also acknowledged.
"The research into mitigations is ongoing but we are yet to produce any 'silver bullet' options that will create a
dramatic change in emissions beyond the incremental gains we have been making year on year," Andrew said.
"So while this work is extremely positive we can in no way bank on the fact that farmers will have available to them
options to reduce their methane and nitrous oxide emissions in a dramatic fashion.
"It’s ‘global warming’ we are all talking about not ‘New Zealand warming’, so we need to bear in mind that actions in
New Zealand could have unintended consequences at international level.
"That’s because the per kilogram carbon footprint of our meat and milk production is far lower than most overseas
producers. If we cut production here, we run the risk that those competing producers step up to fill the gap, and more
greenhouse gases are put into the atmosphere."