Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the government’s commitment to setting a new carbon target and considering accounting for the differing contributions of specific livestock emissions as consultation on proposed Zero Carbon legislation gets underway.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced a six week public consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill yesterday, which he says is a major step to reduce New Zealand’s emissions and build resilience to climate change.
“The Zero Carbon Bill is about providing stability and predictability, by setting out a clear path and a plan to upgrade our economy and help ensure a stable climate for the future,” says Shaw.
“Making a plan and taking common sense action now will help avoid sudden changes in the future. That’s why we want an independent Climate Change Commission to take a long term view as we plan our economic transition.
“The economic analysis we’ve done shows that our economy can continue to grow as we reduce emissions and underlines the importance of innovation and planting trees,” he says, adding, “This is New Zealand’s chance to upgrade our economy.”
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says with severe weather events like droughts and floods becoming more frequent, sheep and beef farmers feel the impacts of climate change first hand and are aware of the challenges climate change brings.
“We know that everyone has to do their bit to meet this challenge, and as a sector we’ve already reduced greenhouse gas emissions from livestock by 30 per cent since 1990.
“We’ve also set the target for our sector to be carbon neutral by 2050 as part of our new Environment Strategy and we’re progressing a range of actions to help build on the good work that farmers are already doing.
“We support the government’s proposal to explore further a split gas approach, which takes into account the differing effects of long-term gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide and short-term gases such as methane on the environment.
“We know that the various greenhouse gases have different lifespans and roles in climate change, so we’re keen to bring the latest science to the table so that the Zero Carbon Bill reflects the latest scientific thought and provides a workable framework for the sheep and beef sector.”
B+LNZ has also commissioned a study into existing native vegetation on sheep and beef farms to better understand the role on-farm planting can have in meeting our obligations.
“Preliminary indications are that existing native forest stocks on sheep and beef farms would contribute significantly towards our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Farmers are also exploring opportunities for planting more trees on sheep and beef farms. Their aim is to meet multiple environmental and other farming goals by clever planting.”
B+LNZ is also committed to the long-standing investment, alongside other pastoral industry players in partnership with government, into the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) to develop cost effective science based solutions for reducing livestock methane and nitrous oxide.
“The pastoral industry’s investment of $70m since 2002 continues to advance the understanding and future options for farmers to reduce their livestock emissions.”
B+LNZ will be talking with farmers across New Zealand to ensure that their views help inform the Zero Carbon Bill and encouraging them to be part of the consultation process, says McIvor.
“Ultimately, farmers know best about what works on sheep and beef farms and what doesn’t.
“We’re looking forward to helping them work constructively with government to come up with legislation that both enables New Zealand to do its part in combating climate change and secures the vibrant future of our sheep and beef sector and rural communities.”
Consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill will continue until 19 July. More information is available from the Ministry for the Environment website www.mfe.govt.nz. For more information on the consultation and dates of public meetings and hui around the country see ourclimateyoursay.nz.