New Zealand will commit to a new, more ambitious climate change target, Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser announced:
“This target is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” Mr Groser said. “This is a significant increase on our current target of five per cent below 1990 emission levels by 2020.”
New Zealand will submit the target to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. All countries are expected to table targets as part of work towards a new climate change agreement, due to be concluded in Paris in December.
“While New Zealand’s emissions are small on a global scale, we are keen to make a fair and ambitious contribution to the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the most harmful effects of climate change,” Mr Groser said.
“Almost 80% of our electricity is renewable already, and around half our emissions come from producing food for which there aren’t yet cost-effective technologies to reduce emissions. So there are fewer opportunities for New Zealand to reduce its emissions right now.
Those who think New Zealand isn’t doing enough forget that we’re already doing quite a bit.
Some of that is because there aren’t many of us and we don’t have a lot of heavy industry but do have a natural advantage in generating renewable energy
It’s also important t take a global perspective and acknowledge that although farming contributes a high percentage of our emissions, most of what we produce goes to other countries few if any convert grass to protein as efficiently as we do.
“However, I’m optimistic about the future – our investment in agricultural research is beginning to bear fruit and the cost of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles continues to fall. I think in 5-10 years we’ll be in a good position to reduce our emissions in both agriculture and transport.
“In setting the new target, the Government needed to ensure it was achievable and to avoid imposing unfair costs on any particular sector or group of people. . .
“New Zealand’s target is equivalent to a reduction of 11 per cent below our 1990 emission levels by 2030. Our target is expressed against 2005 emission levels similar to the approach of other significant players including the United States and Canada,” Mr Groser said.
“The target will remain provisional until we ratify the new international agreement. The detailed rules and guidelines for national reduction targets are likely to be set after the Paris meeting. These will cover matters such as the rules on accounting for the land sector, and ensuring international carbon markets meet high standards of environmental integrity.”
“The Government will adopt an appropriate mix of policies to ensure the target is met. In particular, we will begin a review of the Emissions Trading Scheme this year, which will include scope for further public discussion on what New Zealand will do domestically.” Mr Groser said.
Federated Farmers says the new target is an ambitious one:
Federated Farmers Climate Change Spokesperson Anders Crofoot says in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which says reducing fossil fuel use will need to be the major focus to achieve this target. However agriculture will also play its part in development of technologies which will increase productivity whilst reducing carbon intensity of primary sector products.
“Agriculture takes its responsibilities as New Zealand and global citizens seriously and the primary sector already has an impressive track record in achieving carbon efficiency.”
“We continue to play an on-going role in meeting the world’s demand for nutrient-dense protein and finding solutions which addresses both climate change concerns and the food security dynamic.”
“To date, the amount of carbon released in producing a block of butter here in New Zealand is the lowest in the world. It is important to make sure our approach to reducing New Zealand’s emissions does not undermine our critical export industries.”
“In a resource-constrained world, it is vital to use resources efficiently and wisely. Climate change does not begin or end at New Zealand’s borders and New Zealand plays a vital world leading role as one of the most emission efficient food producers and exporters in the world.”
Beggering agriculture here would cause great harm to our economy and it would also increase emissions as less efficient producers in other countries increased production to fill the gap left by us producing less.
Anders Crofoot says New Zealand’s primary sector has made huge gains in carbon efficiency in the past three decades, through enhanced animal and plant genetics, as well as through a much greater understanding of livestock digestion and metabolism. He says our agricultural emissions intensity has declined more than 20 percent since 1990.
“Reducing emissions from biological systems such as dairy cows is not easy. That’s why since 2003, New Zealand’s agricultural sector has invested $30 million to help find solutions. AgResearch scientists have already identified five different animal-safe compounds that can reduce methane emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent. Further trials are needed to confirm that these compounds can reduce emissions in the long term, have no adverse effects on productivity and leave no residues in meat or milk. But all going well, we could possibly see a commercial product for use on-farm within five to ten years.”
“Continued investment will be required to develop science to reduce and treat biological agricultural emissions. This is how we can make a considerable contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by getting larger developing country emitters to adopt our technologies.”
“New Zealand is already sharing its developments and gains through the Ministry for Primary Industries and Federated Farmers Global Research Alliance World Farmers Organisation Farmer Study Tours. The aim is to increase global understanding on agricultural greenhouse gas research and engage farmers on environmental management practices that support sustainable productivity.”
Mr Crofoot concluded “The task before us now is to work on solutions built off an understanding of the strengths we have as an agricultural producer, and how best we can grow those strengths in a manner that improves emissions efficiency and farm productivity.”
Business New Zealand says the target is challenging but achievable :
. . .”Our unique profile, with unusual predominance of agricultural and transport emissions, means we must be deliberate about how we achieve reductions without harming the economy.
“Key to this will be a balanced outcome for all countries taking part in forthcoming negotiations in Paris, facilitating investment, technology development and access to markets in a way that provides New Zealand businesses with the confidence to invest in low-carbon solutions for emission reductions over the long term.”
Balance is indeed the key – balance between all countries and between environmental and economic concerns keeping in mind it is the most vulnerable people who would pay most dearly if that balance isn’t achieved.