Climate: the NZ political round

Tim GroserClimate Change Minister Groser has been attending the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Malaysia, before moving on to Europe to promote a future New Zealand-European free trade agreement (FTA) and to further climate change negotiations.

He spoke on 16 July at the Institute of International and European Affairs Leadership Forum on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Dublin. He outlined New Zealand’s situation and approach and results from the New Zealand-established Global Research Alliance on Agriculture Emissions, which now has over 44 members, including Ireland.

He referred to New Zealand’s ‘biological emissions’, he prefers the term to agriculture emissions as this country’s focus is on livestock rather than arable agriculture,

Groser noted that it is incorrect to say ‘agriculture is outside the ETS’. New Zealand’s farmers, like all New Zealanders, pay a price on the carbon they use everytime they jump on a tractor, use a digger or drive their cars, through the carbon price on petrol or the electricity they buy. “OK, the carbon price they pay and thus the disincentive to consume carbon is low,” he said.

All agriculture processing – meat plants and dairy factories above the same threshold level that applies to non-agriculture companies – are also included in the ETS.

“What is not included is nitrous oxide and enteric methane from our livestock.”

He said a more honest debate was needed about how agriculture will be treated in a new long-term comprehensive climate change agreement and pointed to other mitigation commitments which could be made, including:

  • Putting a price on carbon used in all agriculture processing above a threshold level
  • Upgraded commitments to research and development, ie ramping up the  NZ-initiated Global Research Alliance on Agriculture Emissions
  • Setting national targets for continual improvements in greenhouse gas efficiency, which could then be reflected in intensity targets for agriculture
  • Targets could be set around reducing food loss and wastage – the GHG footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated at 3.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent – making food wastage the third largest ’emitter’ after the US and China, the Minister said.

He also met with relevant Irish Ministers to discuss the potential NZ-EU free trade agreement and also to have talks with his climate change and agriculture counterparts.

“Like New Zealand, agriculture forms a high proportion of Ireland’s GHG emissions and they are supportive of our efforts to bring greater recognition of this into climate change negotiations.

At the time of writing, the Minister was then moving on to attend the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) in Luxembourg. This brings together 17 of the world’s largest economies and is convened by the US several times a year. New Zealand is invited as a special participant.

“The MEF is a chance for countries to come together ahead of the end of year negotiations and try to work through the sticking points holding up a comprehensive global agreement on climate change and we’re proud to play a constructive part in that,” says Groser.

Following MEF, the Minister was to attend the Paris Ministerial meeting on climate change, which will also bring major players together to move the climate change agreement process forward.

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