No use imposing pain for no gain

Why isn’t farming included in the emissions trading scheme?

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett nails the answer:

Let me take this opportunity to clearly state the Government’s position: until there is an economically viable way of reducing agricultural emissions through technological advances or otherwise, I will not be bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a Parliamentary debate on the recent Globe New Zealand report into climate change, Labour’s David Parker said “If we are elected, agriculture will be coming into ETS very fast. We have always said it should”.
Here’s my response to Parker.
We fully support our farmers here in NZ.
There is absolutely no point in cutting them off at the knees because more inefficient farmers across the world would pick up the slack and leave us worse off overall.
The greenhouse gas footprint from dairy here is less than half the global average.
We are a nation of four million feeding 40m – the world needs what our farmers produce
.

Imposing the ETS on farming now would cause financial pain to farmers and the country.

If there was an environmental gain that cost might be justified but it can’t be when less efficient producers elsewhere would step in to the gap left by lower production in New Zealand.

We should be backing our NZ farmers.
The actions farmers are already taking to improve water quality and reduce nitrogen fertiliser costs have climate change co-benefits.
Farms that are improving efficiency and productivity are also reducing emissions intensity.
Over the past 25 years farmers have improved the emissions efficiency of production by about 1% a year.
Without these gains, agricultural emissions would have increased by 40% to produce the same amount of product, rather than the current 15% increase in emissions.
We need to make sure actions to achieve these efficiency gains become standard practice and that we strive for further improvements that have both on farm economic and climate benefits.
A thriving and productive agricultural sector is pivotal to the health of NZ’s economy and farmers are natural environmentalists.
We’ll be working in partnership with farmers, not against them, to make the changes we need to make to reach our ambitious Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.
We continue to put about $20m a year into agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation research.
It includes improving our national forestry and agriculture greenhouse gas inventory and reporting, understanding and adapting to the impacts of climate change, research on reducing methane and nitrous oxide and how soil can be used to store carbon.
The Primary Growth Partnership and the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre are examples of government industry partnerships to find new technologies and production systems that will make farming more productive and sustainable.
Fonterra has formed a 10-year, $20m partnership programme with the Department of Conservation to reduce predators and improve habitats and water quality.
This project looks at how sustainable dairying can be part of healthy, functioning ecosystems, highlighting the important two-way relationship between environmental health and economic prosperity.
NZ is working with other countries on many projects related to agriculture and recently signed an agreement with China to share technical expertise on carbon trading and agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation.
The Government continues to fund forestry schemes which provide additional income from marginal land, help improve water quality and act as a carbon sink.
We provide start-up support for community irrigation schemes which must meet regional environmental requirements.
NZ has a great opportunity to demonstrate that we have that integrity and to market ourselves as a really superb grower of premium food.
I have never met a farmer who didn’t want to leave the environment in a better state than they found it, for future generations.
We all need to work together to embed and accelerate good management practice and connect better with our consumers, both here and overseas.
A thriving and productive agricultural sector is pivotal to the health of NZ’s economy and farmers are natural environmentalists.

Quite.

Farmers might be a small minority in New Zealand now but farming still makes a large contribution to the economy.

Contrary to the anti-farming rhetoric most farmers are also doing everything they can to repair the environmental damage for poor practices in the past and ensure their current practices leave as small an environmental footprint as possible.

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2 Responses to No use imposing pain for no gain

  1. Bulaman says:

    The ETS is already an abject failure. Our idiot politicians are spending 1.4 billion dollars a year for the next 10 years to buy overseas credits instead of having a process that planted a million hectares of low class land in a new publicly owned forest. President Trump has it right. The science is not settled, defund it.

  2. Mr E says:

    I’ve said this sort of thing for years.

    Truth be known – the best thing for the climate would be to promote our systems to the world and end trade barriers.
    Only then would inefficient producers disappear.

    Perhaps this action would be a better spend than research into reducing greenhouse gases?

    It would be interesting to know a cost/benefit of such actions.

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