Feds want more details about latest Govt proposals on farm emissions and how to levy them – but Greenpeace is quiet

Buzz from the Beehive

Federated Farmers quickly released its criticisms of the latest government announcement on emissions from the agricultural sector.  Oxfam did too.

Neither organisation welcomed the news from the PM, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister for Climate Change.

But Point of Order  found nothing from Greenpeace on the Scoop website, where Greenpeace statements usually are posted.

Back on October 11, when the government announced its previous amendments to its proposals, Greenpeace said the Government’s farmgate emissions pricing system known as He Waka Eke Noa would fail to cut climate emissions from agriculture, New Zealand’s biggest polluter.

It is unlikely the latest announcement will have appeased them- but who knows?

The government posted its latest proposals on the Beehive website under the news –

Govt and industry take next step on agriculture emissions reduction plan

The Government has worked alongside farming leaders to adapt the proposed system for reducing agricultural emissions, that will protect future export growth, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In other news  from the Beehive, we learned that –

We should plan stress- and emissions-free holiday motoring 

Summer is a great time to do a few road trips and safely explore the country, while doing your bit for the environment, Transport Minister Michael Wood has reminded Kiwis.

There was an environmental message to this one.

Wood noted that “the success of the clean car policies” had resulted in more than 62,000 EVs being on our roads, 60 per cent more than at the end of 2021.

“People can make the switch with the knowledge that there will be a charger available when they need one, with charging stations every 75km for over 97 percent of our state highway network.

“Mapping out some charge points before you go will help drivers avoid busy roads and access public chargers when there is less demand.  Tools like Waka Kotahi’s online journey planner, which collects real time information about charger location and availability, means that you can confidently plan your road trip without stress.

“Alternatively, people can also look to stay in accommodation where they can charge their EVs overnight while they recharge themselves to avoid fatigue.”

Wood alerted us to the EECA’s campaign this month with advice for EV drivers on where to get the latest information on chargers, the best ways to charge EVs, and EV charging etiquette.

More information on the Journey Planner can be found on the Waka Kotahi website.

 Aotearoa New Zealand supports Tokelau response to COVID-19

The Government has announced it is sending a shipment of medical supplies to Tokelau to help its response to the first cases of COVID-19 in quarantine.

The cost was not mentioned.

But Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said New Zealand has provided support to Tokelau since the outset of the pandemic, supporting preparedness through the provision of COVID-19 vaccines.

Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway ready to roll

The ribbon has been cut on the Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway, in time for the holiday season and the start of a bumper summer for tourists in New Zealand.

Peka Peka to Ōtaki is the latest part of the Government’s investment into the lower North Island transport network, connecting with the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway and Transmission Gully Motorway.

“Peka Peka to Ōtaki is built to the highest safety specifications and will provide a much safer route for road users,” Associate Transport Minister Kieran McAnulty said.

We recall the Titanic being built to the highest standards, too – and it was “unsinkable”.

Government takes steps to further protect the rights of tamariki

Minister for Children Kelvin Davis has welcomed New Zealand’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure (OPCP).

The Protocol will allow claims to be made to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child if the claimant believes the Government has breached New Zealand’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

New Zealand ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Children’s Convention) in 1993.

The statement from the government about the proposed system for reducing agricultural emissions followed the release of a report from the Ministry for the Environment which outlines several changes to the proposed emissions pricing system.

The aim is to give greater certainty for farmers and better recognise on-farm sequestration.

“After listening to farmers and growers through our recent consultation, and engaging over recent months with industry leaders, today we have taken the next steps in establishing a proposed farm-level emissions reduction system as an alternative to the ETS backstop,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Our shared goal is supporting farmers to grow their exports, reduce emissions, and maintain our agricultural sectors international competitive edge into the future. By continuing to work through our different positions together, we move closer to achieving long term consensus on a plan that works.”  

New Zealand must stay competitive in a market that is increasingly demanding sustainably produced products, Ardern said.

Tesco, the biggest buyer of New Zealand products in Britain, wants all its  products to be environmentally accredited and reach net zero across their entire supply chain by 2050, she said.

And Fonterra has warned farmers it risks losing customers and facing trade barriers if it doesn’t meet sustainability expectations, prompting the co-operative to look at setting a target for reducing emissions across its supply chain.

“If we don’t establish a credible plan to reduce agriculture emissions the future of our exports are at stake.

“I’ve always said we’re open to changes if they build greater levels of buy in. Today we move forward by moving closer together on a workable system,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the Government understood the need for greater certainty for farmers and growers in their business planning.

It has committed to a five-year price pathway for levy rates from 2025, giving farmers the price certainty they have asked for out to 2030.

Oversight of the levy setting system will rest with the Climate Change Commission, but the government is establishing a board with representatives from the agriculture sector and Māori to provide advice and act as an avenue for sector input.

“The farming sector will have input into the decisions around recycling income raised by the levy back out to the sector. That means farmers will have a say on the types of actions that will make the greatest impact on-farm to reduce emissions.” 

The Government was urgently working with the sector to develop a process to recognise on-farm carbon sequestration, a top priority for farmers, O’Connor said.

Sequestration needed to be recognised in a way that is fair, cost-effective, and scientifically robust.

“We’re committed to working with He Waka Eke Noa’s partners to investigate options for targeted transitional support for farmers and officials will do further work on the use of collectives to simplify reporting and payment obligations.” 

O’Connor noted that Budget 2022 contained over $380 million to support the sector, which includes a new Centre for Action on Agricultural Emissions.

Minister of Climate Change James Shaw said the government had made a promise to put a price on agriculture emissions – but work still had to be done to ensure the pricing system that was up and running in 2025 worked for the sector while reducing emissions at the pace required to protect the climate.

Final decisions on agricultural emissions pricing will be made by Cabinet early next year with the aim of introducing legislation by the middle of the year.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here: https://environment.govt.nz/publications/pricing-agricultural-emissions-report-under-section-215-of-the-climate-change-response-act-2002

In reaction to the government’s announcement, Oxfam Aotearoa’s Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry said his organisation was frustrated that the Government was not taking climate destruction seriously enough.

“We should be aiming for the lowest possible climate pollution, not the lowest possible price on agricultural emissions.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said the “vague improvements” to the government’s October plan to price agricultural emissions were not enough and the Feds remain opposed.

And Greenpeace says…?

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