Has the Ardern government just shot itself in the foot?
Despite its poll ratings slipping in recent months, it nourished hopes of returning to power next year. But its “world-first” policy to cut greenhouse gases with farm-level pricing, effectively making 20% of NZ’s sheep and beef farms uneconomic, could result in it bleeding votes in most of the regional electorates it won in 2020.
The unpalatable truth is just dawning on the country: cutting agricultural emissions means cutting food and fibre output. And that means slashing the export income on which NZ depends.
Clearly the Cabinet ministers adopting the policy announced yesterday believed they could “sell” it on the basis that NZ would be leading the world, in cutting agricultural emissions.
In the event, they have been met with shrieks of outrage from farm lobby groups.
More unexpected is that Greenpeace is critical, saying the plan is just “greenwashing”. Worse, ultra-Greens call it a “scam” (but they, of course, believe the simplest way to cut greenhouse gas emissions is to cull drastically the dairy herds).
It may even be true that any of the farm-level pricing options is less effective at reducing emissions than the default option of including agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme at the processor level.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon, perhaps sniffing the breeze and detecting a gale brewing, has dropped any notion of pursuing consensus with Labour on its “world-first” plan.
He says National opposes what the government has now put forward, saying the government’s own figures suggest its proposed scaling back of the sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions.
He points to how National had backed the sector-led process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions and support the uptake of new technology.
“We believe consensus with farmers is vital. But the government has put that at risk with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move off-shore.
“The scaling back of our sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions, because Kiwi farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world, so cutting back food production here just to see demand being met by less-efficient farmers overseas is simply counter-productive.
“National would ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.
“National would also allow farmers to earn credit for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. It’s just not right for Labour and the Greens to add extra costs to farmers without allowing on-farm planting and carbon capture to offset new emissions costs they may face.”
Luxon urged the Government to get alongside rural communities and find an enduring solution that works for everyone – not dictate changes from Wellington.
“National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their own land. I know farmers will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.”
What Luxon failed to point out is that the government’s plan, if implemented, will mean New Zealanders will have to pay even higher prices for meat and dairy products.
Meanwhile Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who wanted an even more draconian solution to the problem of agricultural emissions, can sit back smirking as his Labour colleagues get caught in a wave that could sweep them from office.
5 thoughts on “The consequence of cutting livestock numbers to tackle farm emissions? A culling of support for Labour in rural areas, perhaps”
This nonsense is not based on any scientific or economic reality. It is based solely on a desire to create international political grandstanding options for Ardern and Shaw, which have already occurred in UK and Canada.
The global shortfall in food production that will occur will be filled eagerly by producers around the world which have greater emissions than NZ agriculture. Thus it defeats all arguments that the “policy” advances for emissions reduction.
God defend NZ and our agriculture!
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No other country is doing this, nor will any because food production is protected under Article 2(b) of the Paris Agreement. New Zealand farmers and consumers are being martyred in the cause of Ardern’s vanity and her promotion of her international brand.
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Ardern’s “International Brand”, like her, is wearing thin with those that matter. She is definitely in the mould of Biden, Macron, Trudeau, et al. All on their way out. Forgot Albanese, who may get a Gough Whitlam send off before he knows it also!
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Ardern and her cadre of idiots are bent on destroying New Zealand’s economy. First, massive lockdowns to prevent workers from working and handing out billions of borrowed money that weakens our NZD. Secondly, tourism-revival held up by lack of visas issued by government thus limiting foreign exchange in-flows. Thirdly, destroying our agriculture sector (the world’s most efficient) by cutting livestock numbers. and not one of her Ministers has the guts to stand up and tell her to get out of Parliament. What is O’Connor doing ? Nothing — week-kneed, gutless, spineless and he calls himself a farmer !!! Definition of TREASON: the crime of betraying one’s country Why isn’t Ardern being charged with TREASON, eh ?
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