NZ making good progress in climate change

A new report that shows New Zealand is making good progress in climate change and is focused on the next steps has been welcomed by top pastoral greenhouse gas scientists.

New Zealand’s Action of Climate Change, produced by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), brings together information about the science, global momentum and domestic work to transition to a lower emissions future.

Paula Bennett, Minister for Climate Change Issues.
Paula Bennett, Minister for Climate Change Issues.

New Zealand Climate Change Issues minister Paula Bennett says climate change is an incredibly important issue, but too many people find it complex or get put off by the politics.

“This snapshot of the things we’re done, are doing, and still need to do will help New Zealanders better understand how we can leave the planet a better place for future generations.

“From the central and local government’s investment and support, through to research, businesses, iwi and households, there is some really impressive work underway that can give New Zealanders confidence we are on a path to grow with fewer emissions.”

The document was released to coincide with a United Nations event to encourage early ratification of the Paris climate change agreement. It is intended that the snapshot will be updated regularly as New Zealand’s work programme progresses.

The Minister is encouraging all Kiwis to take a look, think about what they’re already doing to preserve  the New Zealand environment and what else their families and workplaces can do to reduce emissions.

The snapshot shows that New Zealand’s share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is just 0.16 percent, but that New Zealand faces different challenges in reducing emissions than other developed countries. Uniquely, almost half of New Zealand’s emissions come from agriculture, 40 percent from energy/transport and 11 percent from other sources. The breakdown of GHG types is carbon dioxide (44 percent), methane (43 percent) and nitrous oxide (11 percent).

The report highlights the need to do much more, including the establishment of expert groups on adaptation, agriculture and forestry, strengthening the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, reducing hydrofluorocarbons and broadening the use of New Zealand’s renewable energy advantage.

NZ’s pastoral sector actively involved in GHG mitigation work

New Zealand’s pastoral sector is already actively involved in work to mitigate GHG emissions from livestock through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRC), which has been in existence since 2002 and is funded by pastoral groups such as Beef & Lamb NZ, Dairy NZ, AgResearch and DEEResearch. PGgRC, with the Ministry for Business Innovation & Employment, funds some of the scientific work carried out by the wholly NZ-government owned New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), which is part of the 46 nation Global Research Alliance, NZAGRC scientists are at the forefront of looking at mitigation methodologies.

Dr Andy Reisinger.
Dr Andy Reisinger.

NZAGRC deputy director Dr Andy Reisinger says it is excellent to see the snapshot which gives an overview of climate change challenges and actions specific to New Zealand. “This document shows the many ways in which New Zealand is currently addressing the challenges posed by climate change and it’s good to see recognition that we can do more to make the most of our unique opportunity.”

Reisinger says the NZAGRC looks forward to supporting the strengthened climate change actions highlighted in the document, “including through the establishment of a new expert group to support New Zealand’s efforts to address climate change in agriculture,” he says.

Two reference groups were set up recently to support New Zealand’s climate change goals and help support emissions reduction in the livestock and forestry sectors.

Funding to the tune of $150,291 was also recently gained from Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme by the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre, which is part-funded by the Meat Industry Association.  The programme is seeking to review anticipated changes in the NZ food system, as a result of climate change predictions over the next 50-100 years.  Two other studies, by AgResearch and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust, have been approved to review agriculture mitigation related climate change research in New Zealand. In total 13 climate change research projects were awarded $3.1 million in the SLMACC research programme, which supports new climate change knowledge generation in the agriculture and forestry sectors for adaption, mitigation and cross-cutting issues.

One of New Zealand’s key tools for reducing emissions is the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). According to MfE, the ETS creates a financial incentive for companies to invest in technologies and practices that reduce emissions and encourages foresters to grow more trees. This is currently under review and submissions have been made by meat industry bodies, alongside many other groups in New Zealand. Submissions closed in April.

Many of New Zealand’s meat processors, including Silver Fern Farms, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, AFFCO and also renderer Wallace Corporation, are involved in the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA)’s energy management programmes.

Diary note: You’ll be able to find out more detail about science work in the area next March at the PGgRC/NZAGRC’s biennial conference that will be held on 28 March 2017 in Palmerston North. The last event in 2015 was fascinating and comprehensive.



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