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New Zealanders Asked to Work Together to Tackle Emissions from Farming

19 October 2016, at 12:00am

NEW ZEALAND - New Zealanders must work together and start tackling the complex problem of the biological greenhouse gases from agriculture, says Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The Commissioner has released a new report on the issue of agricultural greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide – which form about half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“In Paris last year the world committed to limiting global warming,” said Dr Wright. “If we are to succeed, the next few decades will be crucial. It’s time to join forces and make some progress.”

Over more than a decade, there have been a number of false starts in dealing with agricultural greenhouse gases, and much controversy over their continuing omission from the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“The debate around agricultural emissions and the ETS has been polarised for too long,” said the Commissioner. “But the ETS is not the only way forward – there are other things that can be done.”

Immediate opportunities for reducing New Zealand’s emissions lie in new native and plantation forests, and the Commissioner wants to see real progress in this area.

“Our farmers have shown time and again their ability to adapt to new challenges,” she said. “The world will continue to need food. But in the long term the way in which food is grown, and the types of food grown, will have to change if biological emissions are to be reduced.”

New Zealand's Federated Farmers organisation said it supported the call for a better approach to the emissions issue, but said agriculture should not be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme as it would reduce the international competitiveness of the industry.

Federated Farmers also said the report showed emissions would be 40 per cent higher than they are now if gains had not been made through improvements like breeding more efficient animals and improving farm management.

"New Zealand farmers are totally committed to leaving their land in as good, if not better, condition than they found it," added Federated Farmers spokesperson on Climate Change Anders Crofoot.