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Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed

Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.

“The evidence in today’s report means that Government has to come up with more than platitudes; it needs an action plan to address the ‘cow in the room’. Biological emissions from farming are responsible for nearly half New Zealand’s total emissions, and, under current policies, are expected to use 68 per cent of the country’s carbon budget between 2021 and 2030.

New Zealand must begin the transition to lower emission farm production systems. If the Government continues to ignore the biological gases from agriculture they are putting undue pressure on other parts of the economy and are leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab. This failure to act by the National government is unacceptable.

“This report shows that there are smart ways for us to begin the transition and further work to reduce our emissions from this sector. Regulation will play a role, and we must also look at the point of obligation and ways of rewarding good sustainable farming. To truly incentivise on-farm reductions, the benefits of those emission reductions can flow directly to farmers rather than processors, and we must look to recognising the contribution riparian planting makes not only to cleaning up our rivers but also offsetting our emissions. Just bringing in large farms is not enough. Innovative and small farmers should be given the option to opt-in so their efforts can be recognised.

“It’s not rocket science to work out that if we continue to give agriculture a free pass by not including it in the ETS then there is zero incentive for reducing emissions from the sector that makes up half of all our emissions . There are smart ways we can do this, but it is critical that we immediately put a price on our agricultural emissions.

“The report evaluates the science and a range of possible measures to reduce our agricultural emissions. There are some exciting possibilities outlined that Labour is keen to explore more fully, but it is also clear that there is no silver bullet. Planting more forests, getting composition of our fertilisers right, and looking at what feed options are all practical and immediate steps that must be taken without delay,” says Megan Woods.