New Zealand’s agricultural industries on which the country depends for the bulk of its export income are facing a renewed onslaught from environmental lobby groups which are challenging the country’s failure to place what they see as an effective charge on agricultural emissions. But this time Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw are being bayoneted alongside the farmers.
Greenpeace spokesperson Christine Rose says:
“Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw need to show some mettle, stand up to the dairy industry and include 100% of agricultural emissions immediately”.
Forest and Bird is on a slightly more elevated plane: it says it is calling on He Waka Eke Noa to put their plan to price agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the bin because even He Waka Eke Noa says it wont actually cut emissions”.
He Waka Eke Noa is the name adopted by a Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership which aims to support farmers and growers to protect, restore and sustain the environment and to enhance the country’s well-being and that of future generations.
According to the discussion document He Waka Eke Noa –
“Initial modelling suggests these prices would lead to reductions in total agricultural emissions of less than 1% reduction in both CH4 and N2O below 2017 levels, additional to reductions as a result of other environmental policies.”
Keey goes on:
“He Waka Eke Noa had one job, to come up with an emissions reduction plan for agriculture that would cut emissions.
“They have completely failed. This plan is bad for the climate, bad for the future of farming, and taxpayers are going to have to pick up the tab.
“The agriculture industry has had over thirty years to deal with its climate problem. Once again they’ve failed, and now the government needs to get on with the job agri-business won’t do, and put them in an improved ETS.
“The proposal to have a cheaper price on methane emissions will lock in state-subsidised farming as taxes go into buying offshore carbon credits on behalf of a sector that is clearly unwilling to take responsibility.
Keey says He Waka Eke Noa should tell New Zealanders how many carbon credits will need to be bought to subsidise agriculture.
“Agriculture already exceeds the ability of the environment to cope, and the country can see that with declining and often dangerous water quality, loss of native habitat, and the persistent refusal to face our climate reality. It’s time to change.”
Greenpeace, in its more colourful language, contends the government should walk away from the voluntary agribusiness industry partnership which (according to Greenpeace) has admitted that it won’t do the one thing it was supposed to: reduce agricultural emissions.
“The He Waka Eke Noa voluntary partnership with big agribusiness polluters is like a round-table of foxes discussing security measures for the hen house. It’s time to walk away.” Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner Christine Rose says
“The dairy industry has shown that it will always resist measures to reduce emissions. This proposal is just more of the same deflection and deferral and doesn’t stack up.
“The government must get real and put rules in place that will actually reduce emissions.
“Action to reduce agricultural emissions means tackling the dairy industry – New Zealand’s worst climate polluter – and that means far fewer cows, it means cutting synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, it means fully including agriculture in the ETS and ending subsidies, and it means backing a shift to regenerative farming.
“Relying on endless consultations to find answers we already know, and voluntary agreements that are designed to fail is like shuffling the deckchairs as the lifeboat burns.”
According to the discussion document He Waka Eke Noa released this week,
“… initial modelling suggests these prices would lead to reductions in total agricultural emissions of less than 1% reduction in both CH4 and N2O below 2017 levels, additional to reductions as a result of other environmental policies.”
The He Waka Eke Noa partnership has to report to government in March 2022 with its recommendations for an alternative on-farm pricing and sequestration system. This will incorporate the feedback received during the public consultation taking place now.
Once the He Waka Eke Noa report is received, the government has a period of time to consider the options. During that time, the Climate Change Commission will also review progress being made by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership, including against the legislated milestones, and will make a separate report to government.
By the end of 2022, the Climate Change and Agriculture Ministers must put forward a report outlining the system that will price agricultural emissions as an alternative to the ETS. The Ministers’ report must address:
- How those emissions would be priced and accounted for
- Which activities and participants would be included
- The methodologies for calculating emissions and removals (sequestration)
- What assistance (if any) would be given to participants, e.g. allocation of units
- How methane emissions would be treated relative to other greenhouse gas emissions, including whether, how and what types of removals would be recognised
- What information participants would have to provide and how that information would be used, shared or made publicly available
- How participants and industry groups would be engaged in designing, implementing and operating the system
- Who would be responsible for administering it
- What legislative amendments might also be recommended.
So there is some way to go yet.