The report supports many of the issues and policy positions Federated Farmers have been advocating consistently for over the years, such as:
The fundamental difference between long-lived stock emissions (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) and short-lived flow emissions (biogenic methane).
- The report makes it clear that methane does not need to reach net zero in order to no longer contribute to additional atmospheric warming.
- The report also states that “agriculture emissions made up about 90% of biogenic methane and 18% of long-lived gas emissions.“ This is a big win for our sector as having methane unscientifically lumped with more harmful long-lived emissions is distorting public discussions on climate change.
The well-founded concerns with the environmental, social and economic harm caused by blanket pine afforestation (and increased afforestation being seen by many as New Zealand’s main answer to Climate Change),
- The report states that “Aotearoa must focus on decarbonising and reducing emissions at the source. As a country we can no longer rely on forests to meet our climate change targets.“
- It is great to see that the Commission is acknowledging that climate change is more than an accountancy exercise and rural New Zealand cannot be expected to bear the brunt of offsetting the rest of New Zealand’s emissions.
- However, there are very large amounts of native afforestation (10,000s of ha per year) being expected by the Commission and ensuring that does not occur at the expense of the well-being of rural New Zealand will be a priority for Feds.
That New Zealand’s Government’s agriculture environment policies cannot work in silos
- The report says “The Government needs a cohesive strategy that includes water, biodiversity and climate. There are multiple benefits to taking a holistic view of how we use and protect our land.”
- Many of our farming members are frustrated that government environmental policies are operating in silos, bombarding farmers with disjointed information. It is great to see that the Commission is acknowledging the need to break down these silos.
The need for a conversation about water storage and hydroelectricity
- We have been frustrated that many are not factoring in the potential impact of climate change when steadfastly refusing to consider investing in long -term water storage infrastructure.
- The report states ”Building new small or large hydroelectric dams could help provide flexible capacity to meet peak electricity demand. Pumped hydro schemes would also provide capacity in dry years where hydro lake levels are low…”
- Along with enhancing resilience to extreme weather events, water storage infrastructure also generates over half of New Zealand’s electricity (without generating emissions). It is great to see that the Commission not ignore this potential tool.
The need to revisit the ban on GE/GMOs
- Feds has a long history of advocating for New Zealand to have a grown up conversation about the potential of genetic engineering to assist in the fight against climate change (along with many other challenges).
- In this report the Climate Change Commissions says “…There has been discussion about the use of genetic engineering, and practices to increase carbon sequestration and resilience (often under the banner of regenerative agriculture). Evidence of effectiveness within an Aotearoa context, and discussions about the acceptability of different approaches, is needed.”
- The longer New Zealand continues to restrict the ability of food producers and consumers to make up their own mind, the greater the opportunity cost of not even considering this potentially revolutionary tool will be.
The need to improve rural broadband
- As many of our members know all too well, the level of rural connectivity is simply not good enough for a developed country in 2021. Improving connectivity in rural New Zealand needs to happen fast and will result in myriad benefits, including enabling farmers to rollout cutting edge technology.
- On the issue the report states “Increasing technology use on farms will help to support efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts. Improved rural connectivity via broadband will make it easier to access the information and data farmers need to measure and monitor emissions and will support precision agriculture approaches.”
The importance of He Waka Eke Noa – The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership
- He Waka Eke Noa is a collaborative approach where Government, industry and iwi/Maori work together to measure, manage and reduce agriculture emissions. This process also involves developing an appropriate pricing mechanism (which must be consistent with Feds emissions pricing principles.)
- We are hard at work delivering on this commitment and the commission’s report states “We recommend that in the first budget period that the Government: Ensure that effective mechanisms are in place so that the plans, advisory and guidance tools developed by He Waka Eke Noa will endure beyond 2025 and can support achievement of the emissions budgets and targets.”
Our Next Steps
Here is our plan for consulting Feds members and incorporating this consultation into our submission to the Commission:
Wednesday 17 February:
Circular to National Council and Industry Group Councils with our view on the draft reports and advice and asking specific questions to help inform a submission. Responses due by Friday 26 February.
Tuesday 23 February:
Brief updates to Dairy and Meat & Wool Council meetings in Wellington, in advance of the following day’s combined Council session with Climate Change Commission.
Wednesday 24 February:
Climate Change Commission session with combined Dairy and Meat & Wool Councils meeting.
Friday 26 February:
Responses due from circular to National Council and Industry Group councils.
Monday 1 March:
Draft submission to National Council and Industry Group councils. Responses due by Monday 8 March.
Monday 8 March:
Responses due from draft submission to National Council and Industry Group councils.
Tuesday 9 March:
Final draft submission to National Board for any further discussion and sign-off.
Friday 12 March:
Final submission lodged with Climate Change Commission (in advance of its closing date of Sunday 14 March).
Monday 31 May:
Climate Change Commission to provide its advice to Cabinet.
Read the full report here: