Submit on Carbon Zero Bill

July 15, 2019

Submissions on the Carbon Zero Bill close tomorrow.

The Bill as it stands is deeply flawed.

It will impose enormous economic costs on the country; severely decrease New Zealand’s export income and GDP; and destroy rural communities.

It will at best have a tiny impact on global emissions and at worst will increase them as food production losses here are replaced by increases from  less efficient producers in other countries.

The more submissions pointing our flaws and suggesting better alternatives, the better the chance of effecting change.

You can make submissions here.

Federated Farmers’ submission is here.

Alliance Group’s submission is here.

Mine follows, you’re welcome to use any or all of it in making your own one.

Comments on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Bill

  • 1. If we accept the science on climate change we must apply the best science in response to it.

Forestry is a short-term band aid on fossil fuel emissions.

Pine trees are not a long-term solution to meeting our emissions targets. Allowing pine forests to be used as carbon sinks will not encourage the behaviour change required to reduce emissions

Forestry should be used to offset biological emissions not fossil fuels.

Farmers should be able to claim full offsets for all available carbon sinks.

The point of obligation has to be on-farm to achieve behaviour change

Allowing farmers to off-set biological emissions with trees provides them with the incentive plant more.

The Methane targets in the Bill are impractical, without serious reductions to stocking rates (and damaging the NZ GDP). There currently exist no technologies that can meet these reductions as alternatives to reducing stocking rate.

Gene editing should be permitted in New Zealand as a tool to reduce methane emissions and genetic modification should be researched to determine if it has a place in reducing emissions.

  • 2.  If we are following the Paris Accord in reducing our emissions we must follow the Paris Accord in ensuring that carbon sinks do not come at the expense of food production.

Subsidies for planting trees and lower hurdles for foreigners buying farmland to convert to forestry than those who would continue farming are turning productive farmland into forests.

The right tree in the right place is not forests on farmland well suited to raising stock or crops.

If our response is to be sustainable it must be sustainable in the full sense – not just environmentally but economically and socially too.

Turning productive farmland into forestry is already reducing jobs in, and taking people from, rural communities. It is neither economically nor socially sustainable.

Nor is it environmentally beneficial: Environment Commissioner Simon Upton’s report Farms, Forests and Fossil Fuels, found that forests could be used to offset biological emissions but not carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

  • 3. If we are thinking globally and acting locally we must take into account the impact of anything we do not just on New Zealand’s emissions but global emissions.

Food insecurity is one of the possible impacts of climate change.

New Zealand feeds 40 million people and leads the world in doing it efficiently.

Even DEFRA (the UK’s equivalent of MPI) says that it is better for the environment for people there to eat imported lamb from New Zealand than local produce: 

Policies which lead to less food being produced here might lower New Zealand’s emissions but will increase global emissions as less efficient food production is increased in other countries.

Policies which incentivise forestry over farming are in direct contradiction to the Paris Accord. That includes lower hurdles for foreigners seeking to buy farmland for forestry than those who would farm it.

The One Billion Trees programme has not thought past the first 30 years, when high harvesting costs and high carbon prices will be a disincentive to harvest. That will leave a “Green Elephant” – many thousands of hectares of trees that  return no harvest value and no carbon value for their owners, and no economic benefit to New Zealand.

Replacing pastoral land with exotic forests in the name of reducing net emissions risks severely impacting this country’s GDP.

Allowing the carbon price to “drift” upward from $25/tonne will create severe distortions in investment markets. The carbon price as it relates to forest sinks should be capped/regulated to prevent these distortions in the market.

The forest harvesting business should have the same environmental standards imposed on it as pastoral farming does.

The right tree in the right place, off setting emissions in the right way is forestry on land not best-suited to farming and off setting biological emissions not fossil fuel emissions.

  • 5. If we are to take climate change seriously we need the knowledge to make the right choices.

Recycling is promoted as better for the environment, but if the environmental impact of transporting and processing is taken into account, is it really better than sending waste to landfills?

Running electric cars emit no emissions and hybrid cars emit lower ones than petrol and diesel vehicles. But if the entire life cycle of the vehicles and their components including mining the lithium and other minerals for batteries and then disposing of them are taken into account, which is better?

Recommendations:

  1. New Zealand’s response to climate change must be based on the best science.
  2. The Carbon Zero Bill must follow the Paris Accord’s recognition that climate change mitigation is not at the expense of food production.
  3. All impacts of the Carbon Zero BIll must be sustainable in the full sense – environmentally, economically and socially.
  4. The definition in the Bill of “net emissions” only allows for land-use change and forestry. The definition of net emissions in the Bill should be amended to allow for “other forms of sequestration” including regeneration of native bush, smaller scale permanent plantings or soil sequestration.”.
  5. Forestry must not be used to offset fossil fuel emissions.
  6. Farmers must be permitted to offset biological emissions with forestry.
  7. There should be no tax on biological emissions
  8. Gene editing should be permitted in New Zealand as a tool to reduce methane emissions and research into genetic modification should be permitted to determine if it has a place in reducing emissions.

Time to target tourists?

June 17, 2019

Cataclysmic headlines tell us we’re facing a climate crisis.

Councils are declaring climate emergencies.

People are marching demanding action to reverse climate change.

But how many are actually doing anything that will make a real and sustainable difference?

In spite of what it’s trying to tell us our government isn’t.

Its carbon zero bill is largely political and bureaucratic posturing that ignores the science.

If it was really serious about doing something that made a real difference it would stop trying to reduce farm production here which will only increase emissions as other less efficient producers increased their production to fill the gap.

Instead it would target tourists, taxing travel for any but essential reasons.

Farming produces food which people need for survival.

The benefits from tourism are purely personal.

Tourist taxes high enough to compensate for the emissions from travel aren’t being imposed and haven’t been suggested as a serious solution.

Does this mean that the government hasn’t got the courage of its climate change convictions, has got another plan it has yet to tell us, or doesn’t really believe there’s a crisis?


Rural round-up

May 12, 2019

Changing GM policy will be good for the environment and Carbon Zero – Dr William Rolleston:

The Opportunities Party’s new policy on genetic modification(GM), which lines up with Australian law, has given New Zealand farmers hope that they too may be able to use genetic modification in their battle to improve water quality and mitigate climate change towards Carbon Zero.

During my time as Federated Farmers president, farmers, in response to scientific evidence, shifted their focus from increasing production to reducing our environmental footprint.  

We can continue to produce food and fibre while putting the least demand on our resources by improving productivity, benefiting both environment and farmer.  Local councils recognise this by regulating for environmental outcomes rather than blindly restricting inputs – for example, low water nitrogen targets rather than limiting fertiliser or cow numbers. . .

NZ embracing gene-editing is a ‘no-brainer’ – Geoff Simmons – Finn Hogan:

Successive New Zealand governments have been “deaf to developing science” says The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Geoff Simmons.

TOP is calling for deregulation of a form of gene editing called CRISPR, a technique that can be used to remove undesirable traits from an organism or add desirable ones.

Gene editing (GE) could be used for things like removing the genetic trigger for cystic fibrosis in a person, making manuka more resilient to myrtle rust or helping kauri trees fight dieback. . .

African swine fever in China will affect NZ dairy sector: report – Sally Rae:

China’s devastating outbreak of African swine fever will have a spillover effect on the dairy sector, a new report by Rabobank says.

China is the world’s largest pork producer and accounts for about 50% of pork production globally.

The African swine fever epidemic was expected to reduce the country’s pork production by 25%-35%, resulting in increased demand for other animal proteins but lower demand for feedstuffs, the report said.

Rising demand for beef could constrain China’s milk production if dairy cow culling accelerated to fill some of the gap in animal protein demand. . .

From gate to plate’ farming on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

When Ali and Dion Kilmister were looking to save on transport costs they bought their own stock truck, which Dion now drives. And when they wanted to sell their beef and lamb direct to customers, they set up their own online meat delivery business. 

With seven farms to run, the husband-and-wife team has had to rely on creativity and self-sufficiency. If there’s something they need, they make it a reality. 

Their farms are spread out across 200km from Dannevirke to Wellington. While operating over such a wide area has its problems, it also has distinct benefits.  . .

Bring on the tough challenges – Andrew Stewart:

Being the boss isn’t easy and it’s even harder going solo on tough hill country prone to long, cold winters and dry summers. But for Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle it’s her dream come true. Andrew Stewart called in to see how she’s getting on.

The Taihape to Napier highway is a sometimes snaky road surrounded by vast landscapes and prominent landmarks. 

Clean, green hills stretch as far as the eye can see and this strong farming country produces sought-after stock. 

But it can be a brutally challenging environment to farm in too. Winters at this altitude are long, cold and punctuated by snowfalls. Summers are becoming increasingly dry with rain far less dependable after the holiday period.  . .

Court rules dairy factory illegal:

SYNLAIT remains committed to its $250  million Pokeno factory despite a court decision that means the plant was built in breach of covenants restricting use of the land.

The milk powder maker says it is confident it can find a solution to the ownership problem now afflicting most of the land on which the factory stands because of the Court of Appeal decision.

That ruling effectively means the factory was built in breach of covenants on the land.
When Synlait bought the 28 hectares of land in February 2018 it was conditional on the seller, Stonehill Trustee, obtaining removal of that restricted its use to grazing, lifestyle farming or forestry
. . .

 


Carbon indulgences

November 5, 2009

A poster over the seat of the taxi we used in Wellington last week informed us it was carbon zero.

“How can you be carbon zero?” one passenger asked.

“The company plants trees,” the driver said.

We asked a few more questions and ascertained that it didn’t appear to have any impact on the volume of business, but didn’t get a firm answer on whether it had an impact on fares or the environment.

“In other words,” one of our number said, “It’s a bit like me claiming to be fit because I pay someone else to go to the gym, and not knowing if the other bloke is getting fitter either.”


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