This week a few climate news related interesting things have happened or are predicted.
The RAL experience is interesting. An industry dependent on predictable cold winters and weather patterns is now facing the inevitable conclusion of a warming planet.
This is also the week when the Government released for consultation its plans for pricing of farmhouse emissions.
The main points are:
The associated Cabinet Paper noted that the previous National Government’s failure to price farm emissions had cost the sector time and made the transition more difficult.
James Shaw was concerned that the proposal does not provide sufficient certainty that Aotearoa will achieve it climate change and because the funds raised were going to be recycled the proposal was not equitable with the approach taken to emissions pricing for other sector. He was also concerned that emissions reduction targets will be traded off against other considerations when price setting decisions are made.
The farming sector is worried about sequestration credits. A simplified scheme is proposed for the introduction of the scheme. Forested areas of more than one hectare is proposed to be taken into account. Anything smaller than this will increase administration costs substantially.
Beef and Lamb boss Andrew Morrison said this:
We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” says Andrew Morrison, chairman of Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).
“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.
“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”
I do not know what difference enhanced sequestration would make but I suspect it would not make much difference. There is a complex paper setting out the Government analysis of the situation but the results are not immediately clear to me.
Federated Farmers are also concerned.
From Radio New Zealand:
Andrew Hoggard said the government’s proposal was disappointing, and would be a “massive concern”.
“I guess it’s mainly down to the outcomes they’re predicting from this and the modelling and they’re predicting … a 16 to 20 percent hit on sheep and beef incomes and, you know, potentially a 20 percent reduction in terms of sheep meat, a 5 percent reduction across dairy output.
And National has trashed the fragile consensus that had previously been building up.
From Radio New Zealand:
While the government accepted most of the recommendations, a key difference is that Cabinet will set the levies farmers will pay, rather than an independent group with some members selected by the industry.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon said the government’s plan undermined the industry consensus.
“We acknowledge that we have to reduce agriculture emissions,” Luxon told Morning Report.
“What we’ve said is we would support introducing agricultural pricing.
“The question of how you do that is really important. You have to pace that with the technological advances that are coming and then synch it up with that.”
“The thing that I find really, really disturbing is that we’re going to get rid of one-fifth of our sheep and beef farmers by 2030, in less than seven years,” Luxon claimed.
The government acknowledges the plan will be harder for beef and sheep farmers – and it could possibly lead to a 21 percent decrease in revenue by 2030.
Pressed on whether National, if put into government next year, would bring the levy in by 2025, Luxon said he would support what farmers want.
“We want the industry to be able to develop its own solution. We will support whatever the industry wants.
“I trust farmers. I understand that they get this issue.
“What the government proposed yesterday is utterly, utterly unacceptable.”
His comments are even more extreme than National’s formal response to the announcement. Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger said:
“National is committed to emissions targets, including reaching carbon Net Zero by 2050, the Paris Climate Agreement and reductions in agricultural emissions.
“National recognises New Zealand farmers’ significant contribution to the economy. Agriculture earns half this country’s export revenue.
“We are concerned that today’s announcement puts consensus at risk. The Government’s own figures indicate:
- Sheep and beef farming could reduce by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030
- Two-thirds of the reduction in emissions in New Zealand will be undone by higher emissions overseas as jobs and production shift offshore
- The plan does not allow farmers to earn extra income from some forms of on-farm planting and carbon capture.
“Worryingly, the large falls in sheep production in New Zealand could lead to higher global emissions as more sheep production moves overseas to less-efficient farms.
Reducing stock numbers is inevitable if we are going to reduce the amount of meat that we eat, which is one of the most beneficial things we can do to reduce climate change. The old “New Zealand emissions are lower” claim suggests that we should never do anything because someone somewhere else is emitting more greenhouse gas that we would. Either the world gets on top of this problem or it will be trashed. Waiting for someone else to improve their greenhouse gasses has strong vibes of being a fast follower rather than a leader in climate change.
The consultation will be interesting. I expect that it will engender a great deal of heat. And very little light.
And what is the chances of New Zealand sticking to a programme that will ensure we reach our goals? I think that as a country we are f*(ked.