by Roger Ludbrook, Meat and Fibre Chair, Federated Farmers Northland
OPINION: As a farmer I believe climate change is real and reducing our carbon emissions is important. What I am not convinced about is the process and the manipulation of the public by the current government and the Greens around how to reduce our CO2 emissions.
Recently there was a lot of media attention on methane impacting global warming, much more than the accusations being leveled at CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Last month international media broke the news that America and Europe have pledged to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. I’m sure this was just coincidental to the ramp up by the media on the impact of methane.
It did leave me wondering whether New Zealand’s media was being as manipulative on the urban public when it came to NZ’s own contribution to climate change, and the impacts on New Zealand as farmers are influenced by this government’s climate policies.
1st fact: New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are 0.17% of the world’s total if methane and nitrous oxide emissions are included. (A.Fyers 2018) Or 78.9 million tonnes of CO2-e. (stat.govt.nz 2018)
2nd fact: New Zealand’s Zero Carbon law set a reduction target for New Zealand to reduce net emissions of all greenhouse gases (except biogenic methane) to zero by 2050; and reduce emissions of biogenic methane to 24–47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, including to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030.
Quick comparison – Falklands produces almost three times the CO2 from burning fossil fuels than NZ per capita, and has 153 sheep and two cows per person; 95% of their exports are from farming. Currently over 80% of NZ exports are from farmers. There are 3200 people in the Falklands. Sarcastically, amazed that any of them can sleep at night.
3rd Fact: Article 2, Paris Agreement on Climate Change (b) …Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.
Firstly, the ETS, absolutely fantastic, at the current $60 per tonne carbon farmers will make a fortune. If you already own the land, changing from sheep and beef to planting trees for carbon has an estimated return on investment over 30% at this price. Farmers have not been offered as much money by the government to change what they do since 1978 when Rob Muldoon introduced Supplementary Minimum Prices (SMPs). At $100 per tonne under the ETS, farm calculations show a return of over $4000 per ha for a permanent carbon forest in Northland.
On less productive sheep and beef land the current return on investment is around 2%. So, thank you James Shaw, it will not be the farmers’ fault for changing land use!