Rural round-up

August 31, 2018

Commissioner releases research on the contribution of New Zealand’s livestock methane to global warming:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has today released new research on the impact methane from New Zealand’s livestock has on global warming.

“I hope this new work will help promote debate on reducing methane emissions that is grounded firmly in science.” . .

Farmers face pressure under climate change legislation – Eric Frykberg:

Farmers’ hopes of getting an easy ride in climate change legislation has been dented by the combative stand on methane taken by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The commissioner said to prevent global warming, methane emissions would have to fall by 10 to 22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050.

There would then need to be further reductions by 2100. . .

B+LNZ welcomes PCE report on livestock methane emissions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on livestock emissions which recognises the difference in the warming potential between short and long term greenhouse gases.

The Commissioner’s report says that if New Zealand wishes to ensure that methane from livestock contributes no additional warming beyond current levels, methane emissions from all livestock will need to be reduced from 2016 levels by between 10 – 22 per cent by 2050, and 20 – 27 per cent by 2100. . .

Methane report shoots down ‘must be zero’ claims:

Another research paper – this one from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment – shoots down the claims that New Zealand must reduce its livestock methane emissions to zero, Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The paper, based on modelling by Dr Andy Reisinger of the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, suggests that to ensure no additional warming effects beyond current levels, methane emissions would need to be reduced by 10-22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050, with further reductions by 2100. . .

Snacking taken to a new high by Fonterra beverage – Peter Burke:

Fonterra is launching a milk beverage to tap into the emerging consumer trend called ‘snacking’.

The aim is to replace pies, crisps and sugar-filled soft drinks. Production is by new technology at a new plant in a deal with an apple juice processor. In a large industrial area near Hastings, Apollo Foods has set up a new processing plant, the brainchild of apple industry entrepreneur Ross Beaton who intends to make a quality, long life apple juice.

But the plant can do more than process apples: the technology is perfect for producing quality long life milk beverages, which Apollo has agreed to do for Fonterra. . .

Is agritech destined to save New Zealand?:

Agritech could be destined to save the New Zealand economy, leading New Zealand tech expert Graeme Muller says.

The tremendous worldwide demand for food continues to soar with some estimating the market to be worth $US3 trillion and much of the growth coming from specialty and healthy foods, Muller, the NZTech chief executive, says.

He is one of 30 New Zealand agritech delegates attending the Silicon Valley forum agritech immersion programme this week in San Jose, California, and they are finding that New Zealand is well placed to respond to the substantial changing demands. . .

Strong exports push King Salmon earnings – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Strong export growth in its lead North American market and in Asia pushed New Zealand King Salmon to record operating earnings in the year to June 30.

The result would have been stronger had the company not experienced high mortality among its salmon stocks because of high Marlborough Sounds water temperatures.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – the benchmark measure the company used for forecasts in its prospectus before listing on the NZX in 2016 – came in at $26.2 million, a 21 percent increase on the previous financial year and 17 percent ahead of prospectus forecasts. . .

 


Minnows can’t make big difference

August 2, 2011

Quote of the week from Minister  for Climate Change Negotiations Tim Groser:

“We need some international context around this. I mean, with 0.2 percent of emissions, New Zealand just doing something way out there on its own doesn’t make a damn bit of difference,” says Mr Groser.

He says without buy-in from big emitters like the US and China, the talks are just that.

He was responding to criticism of New Zealand’s progress on reducing carbon emissions.

Not only are our emissions tiny on a world scale, most of them come from farm animals and there’s very little we can do about that.

That doesn’t mean farmers and processors aren’t doing what they can. Fonterra intends to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030.

But Mr Ferrier says the ETS is already costing dairy farmers about $3600 per year in increased energy costs.

He says efficiencies can be made without having to pile more costs onto farmers, who have already reduced on-farm emissions by more than 8% since 2003.

All farmers contribute to research on reducing emissions too.

But we’re still and minnow in the sea of emissions and there’s no point criticising us for doing too little when the whales are being left alone .


GW or GM

October 21, 2009

If you see a member of an endangered species eating an endangered plant, what do you do?

That’s an environmental conundrum and here’s another: what if genetic modification could reduce globbal warming?

AgResearch is seeking approval for trials of transgenic grasses which it thinks could reduce greenhouse emissions.

AgResearch’s applied biotechnologies manager, Jimmy Suttie, said the transgenic grasses had both environmental and productivity advantages.

The grasses were high in energy, which meant fewer animals were needed to get the same production, reducing the amount of methane released.

The science behind the forage meant digestion of the plant was more efficient, cutting the amount of methane produced by animals and increasing energy that went into tissue and productivity.

But Dr Suttie said the technology also had implications for further research to cut methane emissions and reduce the volume of water required by the plants.

A lot of people who oppose oppose genetic modification also support radical efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Would they be prepared to relax their opposition to genetic modification if it could be part of the solution to global warming?

GW or GM? Some see both as threats but GM also provides opportunities.


Doctors get prescription wrong

October 12, 2009

The doctors who are criticising the government’s climate change policy have got their prescription wrong.

Twenty-six doctors, mainly public health practitioners, have put their name to the article in today’s New Zealand Medical Journal, which says the country “must rapidly halve its greenhouse gas emissions”.

A further 69 doctors are listed in support of the article. . . . The article argues for a much tougher policy than the Government has adopted, mainly to reduce the potential impact of climate change, but the authors note a positive spin-off would be to improve public health, such as through more cycling leading to reduced heart disease

Halving emissions by 2020 as they urge, would seriously damage our economy which in turn would substantially reduce the health services we could afford.

Some of the signatories are employed by the Minsitry of Health and their jobs would probably be among those at risk if the government followed their prescription.

It would also have little or no impact on the environment. 

If climate change is human induced it is a global problem. Reducing our tiny contribution of carbon emissions – about .1% – would take a huge effort and incur a great cost but have little or no impact on the world’s emissions.


NZ emissions target 10 – 20% cut

August 10, 2009

New Zealand will be aiming for a 10 to 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

That will cost each of us $30 a week.

But what will the benefits be to us individually and as a nation and to the environment locally and globally?


Greenhouse gas research centre to be built

June 2, 2009

Minister of Agriculture David Carter has announced the government will establish a greenhouse gas research centre.

“It is clear that agriculture will be part of New Zealand’s emissions reduction efforts, but the sector must have access to effective and affordable technology that doesn’t compromise productivity,” Mr Carter says.

The centre would be funded through the Primary Growth Partnership, announced in last week’s Budget, and would be run through a host provider, most likely a Crown Research Institute or university.

The centre will be operating by next year and the government is committed to funding it for 10 years.

This is a very sensible response to the politics of climate change. We have to be seen to be doing something and research could have both environmental and economic benefits.


ETS costs too high for agriculture

July 25, 2008

The costs from the proposed emissions trading scheme   will erode any improvement in red meat schedules and dairy payout.

This and other adverse impacts have prompted industry groups to call for more time to voice their concerns about the ETS amid widespread fears it will crush competitiveness for no environmental benefit.

There is absolutely no point in imposing costs on primary industry, or any other sector, if there is not going to be a measurable environmental benefit.

As the first country to include agriculture in such a scheme, the sector says its concerns have not been taken into account, prompting a pan-industry letter sent to Parliament calling for another chance to make submissions.The latest independent analysis of the scheme in its current form shows sheep, beef and deer farmers will be ‘hit hard’ by the ETS – much more so than their dairy counterparts.
Detailing a range of indicative costs for 2030 – the year when agriculture will pay full carbon emissions expenses – National Bank rural economist Kevin Wilson shows the cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kilogram of product sold would be 38c for meat producers compared with 21c for dairy.
Given the dairy payout is historically higher per kilogram of milksolids than a kilogram of meat, it means sheep, beef and deer farmers would pay a higher proportion of income into offsetting emissions than dairy farmers.

The cost of emissions per hectare would equate to $185 for dairy and $84 for sheep and beef. Dairy also has a higher GHG cost per stock unit at $74, compared with $8.40 for sheep and beef.

Wilson told Rural News many variables will determine the ultimate costs, but the fundamental question is why New Zealand has agriculture in its ETS plans when no other countries do.
 
There is no satisfactory answer to this question, especially when New Zealand’s extensive grazing systems put us among the most productive producers of protein with the lowest carbon emissions in the world. 

He says 2018 – when agriculture would enter the scheme – is actually a lot closer that it seems given the changes that would need to be implemented: ‘Now is the time to start preparing potential management options.’Meat & Wool NZ chairman Mike Petersen is not surprised to hear the ETS costs to dairy farmers are lower because they generally sell more product and at a higher price.
But his major and immediate reason in pushing for change to the scheme is that New Zealand is the only country in the world to put agriculture in an ETS. ‘It’s a real concern to us,’ he says.
‘That’s why we are arguing there needs to be some recognition of the competitive factors that New Zealand agriculture will face as a result of being the only country in the world to do so.’

MWNZ was one of 14 industry groups calling for the chance to provide further submissions to the Climate Change Bill recently amended by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Petersen is concerned the ETS goes beyond meeting the nation’s international obligations, and warns carbon neutrality is not a sustainable long-term goal for New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry.

Another worry is ‘trade-offs’ being made in Parliament to pass the bill before the election, says Petersen.

Keeping Stock wonders if Helen Clark’s support of Winston Peters this week is because she needs his support fot the bill.

Wilson’s calculations are based on a conservative carbon cost of $25/tonne, plus stocking rates of 2.5 cows/ha for dairy and 10 stock units/ha for sheep and beef. It takes fertiliser application of 500kg/ha for dairy and 50kg/ha for sheep/beef, production of 875kg of milksolids/ha and 220kg of meat and fibre/ha, along with 7.4t of CO2 equivalent per square hectare emitted for dairy and 3.4/ha for sheep and beef.
 
No-one knows what the cost will be, it is unlikely to be lower but it could be much higher.

 


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