Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Dairy NZ’s Tim Mackle (proper) and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw at Parliament in Wellington. Photo / Marty Melville
The largest collaboration in New Zealand’s agriculture historical past will this week ship a world-first plan for a system to cost agricultural emissions.
The product of two years work by meals producer organisations, Māori and authorities
ministries in a local weather motion partnership referred to as He Waka Eke Noa, the plan will land first on the desks of the ministers for local weather change and agriculture, and be revealed for public scrutiny after June 6.
New Zealand can be the first nation in the world to cost agricultural emissions, says Cameron Henderson, Federated Farmers consultant in the partnership.
“It’s an enormous step ahead in tackling local weather change by the agriculture group, he says.
While the plan is unlikely to silence the “free trip” carping of these infected that agriculture is not in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and will not be totally captured by a regime till 2025, it ought to give them lots to chew on.
Kelly Forster, programme director for the partnership (He Waka Eke Noa interprets as “we’re all in this canoe collectively”) says what we’ll get are suggestions for an alternate system to the ETS for pricing agricultural greenhouse gasoline emissions.
The ETS, launched in 2008 by the Climate Change Response Act 2002, is the Government’s predominant automobile for decreasing our greenhouse gasoline emissions. A market-based instrument offering for buying and selling of carbon credit score items between members, it expenses some sectors a flat tax on the gases they produce.
But earlier than exploring the proposal, let’s take a look at how agriculture – New Zealand’s largest economic system, set to earn $51 billion this 12 months – defends giving critics a lot time to conclude it is dragging its toes on local weather motion. (The complaints quantity shot up this month when the Government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan allotted $340m for a brand new analysis centre for agriculture emissions. Yet, brayed the critics, farmers would not be paying a cent into the $2.9b bucket of cash for local weather motion.)
For starters, it isn’t correct to say farmers aren’t paying for emissions.
Every time they replenish the tractor or the ute, flip on the irrigator or the cowshed or the shearing shed, a portion of their payments goes to the ETS. Farmers use a number of gas and power.
Industrial emissions from their processors are additionally lined by the ETS. And since 2003, farmers have paid greater than $100m to the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium by their dairy and meat trade levies.
What they don’t seem to be paying for but is methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
So why is not agriculture totally in the ETS?
Because it is not a manufacturing facility of widgets, says Forster.
“It is a complete of small companies with very advanced farming techniques with not only a single widget (to vary), however a complete lot of issues to do to vary emissions.
“There was a real and well-understood distinction between agriculture and different sectors in the ETS. Agriculture wished to give you a simpler emissions pricing system than the ETS, one higher suited to the agriculture sector which isn’t a manufacturing facility of widgets with expertise they will use to scale back their emissions.”
Or as agriculture leaders put it: “Farmers cannot exit and purchase an electrical cow.” (Yes, however they may scale back cow numbers, says Greenpeace, which claims He Waka Eke Noa is solely a lineup of a few of the nation’s worst greenhouse gasoline offenders.)
Forster: “This system is designed to be simpler. Farmers desire a system that can assist farmers who do the proper factor.”
She notes the Interim Climate Change Committee, the precursor to the Climate Change Commission, “emphasised” the ETS was not match for objective for agriculture.
The proposal going to the Beehive will embody suggestions on how a pricing system ought to work and the way costs are calculated, whether or not pricing ought to be imposed at farm or processor stage, the place any income raised ought to be invested, and what system oversight is required.
Will it quieten claims agriculture is a local weather motion truant?
Yes, says Forster, whose background is local weather change and agricultural coverage. She got here to the five-year undertaking from the Ministry for the Environment.
“It is a transparent dedication of what the agriculture sector have performed, are doing and can do from 2025.”
“Do nothing was by no means an choice for the sector. An emissions pricing system is handiest when there are mitigations obtainable that individuals can do in response to cost. At the second that set of mitigations could be very restricted. There’s no level having a worth on emissions if all it means is farmers pay the worth and might’t do something completely different.
“A worth on emissions is not simply there to whack individuals over the head. A worth is about driving change.”
Total funding in the undertaking from all sources, together with Government and companions, was $932,764 in the 2020-2021 monetary 12 months. There’s additionally been contributions of companions’ time and sources; Beef+Lamb has supplied workplace area and DairyNZ and B+L have funded session conferences round the nation. AgResearch has supplied science experience at no cost. The programme has three workers together with Forster.
The pricing system will search to lift funds to run the system and pay farmers for sequestration – farmers’ tree planting efforts are usually not at present recognised for carbon credit.
The Government is required by laws to report by the finish of this 12 months on how pricing will occur.
The Climate Change Commission, a Crown entity, should advise the Government by May 31 what monetary help, if any, ought to be supplied to members in a pricing scheme. By June 30 it has to evaluate progress on the sector’s commitments and farmer readiness for a farm-level system for pricing.
Nearly half New Zealand’s greenhouse gasoline emissions, which trigger ambiance warming potential, come from agriculture. Methane, from livestock digestion, is 80 per cent of the sector’s emissions. It’s a short-lived gasoline in comparison with carbon however round 30 instances simpler at trapping warmth. Nitrous oxide is launched from dung and urine patches, and nitrogen fertilisers.
The Government needs methane emissions decreased by 10 per cent beneath 2017 ranges by 2030, and nitrous oxide and carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
Not all the He Waka Eke Noa companions agree with these targets so that they’ll have interaction with the Government on targets individually.
The partnership’s modelling confirmed by 2020, methane emissions would cut back by 4.4 per cent and nitrous oxide by 2.9 per cent beneath current insurance policies resembling the nationwide freshwater coverage assertion, and forestry in the ETS, and market drivers.
Modelling confirmed if He Waka Eke Noa or the ETS had been to use a easy worth to agriculture emissions and nothing extra, lower than 1 per cent additional reductions could be achieved.
“However if the income generated by the pricing had been to be recycled to assist on-farm habits change, extra reductions may very well be attained,” the partnership says.
He Waka Eke Noa is not nearly pricing emissions. Sometimes neglected, it says, is its job to get extra farmers eager about reductions at a sensible stage.
Much has been achieved. Today 61 per cent of all farmers know their emission numbers and 21 per cent had a written plan for coping with them at the finish of final 12 months. Statistics NZ says there are 49,530 farms in New Zealand, down 28.7 per cent from 2002. Farms embody horticulture.
Federated Farmers’ Henderson says He Waka Eke Noa is agriculture’s biggest-ever collaboration.
He says methane and nitrous oxide emissions can be priced independently from carbon and are unlikely to be market-determined as a result of they’re completely different to carbon. Kiwi dairy and meat farmers have already been recognised as the world’s most carbon-efficient.
A motive methane hasn’t been priced but is as a result of the method it is accounted for nationally isn’t very correct when it comes to local weather warming, he says.
“But the actuality is, agriculture in all places in the world isn’t priced.” (That mentioned, our meals clients are demanding emissions accountability.)
Agriculture hadn’t fitted into the ETS as a result of if our farmers had been charged the flat tax when worldwide meals producers weren’t, it could make our product uneconomic.
The sector has been working onerous on mitigation choices. It’s been difficult, he says.
“There aren’t many. We haven’t got battery cows. (But) get the mitigations, pricing begins and farmers are incentivised to take them up in an ordinary and equitable transition.”
DairyNZ chief government Tim Mackle says different international locations are paying their farmers to scale back emissions. The proposed pricing mannequin can be “a a lot smarter” system than the ETS, and given the dimension of agriculture’s contribution to the economic system, there’s “a public good factor” to Government (and vital sector) funding in R&D, he says.
He Waka Eke Noa companions: Apiculture NZ, Beef+Lamb, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association, Deer Industry NZ, Federation of Maori Authorities, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, Meat Industry Association, the atmosphere and first industries ministries.