6 December 2018
Government and industry partners release report on biological emissions
A new report shows many farmers want to take action to reduce emissions, but need more information about what steps
they can take.
It also shows if all farmers operated using today’s best practice, we may be able to reduce emissions by up to 10%.
Continued funding for research into new, novel technologies will be important for reducing emissions further.
The Biological Emissions Reference Group Report is the culmination of two years of research into the opportunities,
costs and barriers to reducing biological emissions in New Zealand’s primary industries.
The Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG) is a joint agriculture industry-government working group of nine key
organisations: Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, Deer Industry NZ, Federated Farmers, The Fertiliser Association of NZ, Fonterra,
HortNZ, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Ministry for the Environment (MfE).
Penny Nelson, Deputy Director General Policy and Trade at MPI, says the group saw the need for a good evidence base to
support the sector to address some key climate challenges. “Farmers were asking what practical things they can do to
reduce their emissions. We needed to improve our shared understanding of the possible innovation and solutions, and the
barriers standing in farmers’ way.”
“The findings highlight the need for good information and tailored advice for farmers”, says Dr Tim Mackle, CEO at
DairyNZ. “There is no single answer to reducing emissions – we’ll need a combination of solutions tailored to land and
“The primary sectors will face a lot of change over the next few decades, as they have the last few. This evidence will
help farmers, government and advisors to steer the right path and understand the possible costs.”
Cheryl Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Water & Climate Change at MFE, says "It’s great that the agricultural sectors and government are working in partnership to
provide information to inform discussion on these important issues.” Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says
“an additional benefit from establishing BERG has been strengthening the relationships between its members.
Our farmers have already made progress in reducing emissions and improving productivity and are committed to continuing
on this journey.”
The reference group commissioned nine new research projects. The work has already informed advice to the government on
options for the 2050 emissions target, and will feed into future planning and policy. It has also been used by the
Productivity Commission, the Interim Climate Change Committee and industry.
The BERG plans to host an event in early 2019 to discuss the analysis and findings in more depth. The Report of the
Biological Emissions Reference Group and the full reports from the research commissioned can be downloaded from the MPI
website at mpi.govt.nz/biological-emissions-reference-group
Brief notes for context are provided below.
For more details see the report and executive summary online at mpi.govt.nz/biological-emissions-reference-group
Key reflections from the report include: • Many farmers want to take action to reduce emissions, but need more
information about what steps they can take.
• If all farmers operated at best practice we may be able to reduce emissions by up to 10%. It’s important that each
farmer gets advice on what works best for them, and their farm.
• Continuing funding for research into new novel technologies is really important as these technologies offer a lot of
potential benefits for farmers, and NZ Inc. However, we cannot rely on making these breakthroughs because the science is
• Overall we can reasonably expect a combination of on-farm mitigation, land use change and technology to contribute to
reducing agricultural emissions in the future.
• It’s reasonable to expect some change in how we use our land in the next 30 years. This is not new – we’ve seen
changes in our land use in the past.
Scope of the research The BERG Terms of Reference intentionally exclude developing policy advice or providing
The analysis did not consider specifically how biogenic methane emissions from agriculture could be treated within a
domestic emissions target.
Research and analysis commissioned by the BERG was carried out by: • AgFirst • New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas
Research Centre • AgResearch • Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research • Motu Economic and Public Policy Research • Beca