ETS ball and chain on ag – AbacusBio

07/10/2009

The proposed ETS will add costs to agriculture but not necessarily reduce any greenhouse gases,  a report by Dunedin consultants AbacusBio says.

The report said that rather than being a gun to the head of agriculture as described by its critics, the emission trading scheme as proposed would be a “ball and chain dragging farmers down”. . .

. . . AbacusBio consultant and report co-author Peter Amer said while processors would have to collect a levy on every kilogram or raw product handled to cover the sector’s ETS obligations, it would not be an incentive for farmers to reduce their emissions.

He said it would need a costly bureaucracy and lead to inaccurate accounting because it would be difficult to match the number of breeding stock born on farms with the number of cull stock killed.

The AbacusBio report suggests allowing farmers to opt into the scheme and to prove they have lowered emissions.

“Well-organised and motivated farmers on medium to large-sized farms opting in and reducing emissions would become the innovators leading a change in industry farming practices,” the report said.

Benefits to these farmers would need to exceed the bureaucratic cost, but it would also be a test of emission reducing technology and practices, and help develop emissions assessment and auditing practices.

And there’s the difficulty – the costs are likely to be high and we have yet to get the tools to reduce emissions.

Dr Amer noted only four of the 34 recommendations made to the government by the ETS review committee related to agriculture.

This indicated the sector lacked political clout, but he said it was political reality that our customers in Europe, the United States and Asia were “embracing climate change issues,” even though our competitors were unlikely to face comparable levies.

“It will be critical that we claim the moral high ground on the social and ethical integrity of our products, and in this way claw back some of the disadvantages of our agricultural ETS.”

Our most important industry lack political clout, climate change issues are the cause de jour and no-one else is including agriculture in their ETS.

How do we claim the moral high ground and at what cost?


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