Why the ETS Review needs to include agriculture

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, November 25th, 2015 - 26 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, farming, global warming, sustainability - Tags:

Key blighted future

In this week leading up to the biggest climate change march Aotearoa has ever seen I intend to write a few posts on this government’s approach to climate change although the simple description is that it is appalling.

Two recent stories give an indication of how appalling it is.

The first is Key’s statement that within three to four years New Zealand’s scientists will have nailed the science regarding agricultural emissions of greenhouse gasses. From TV3:

I am actually quite confident, over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, the world will adopt so many new technologies actually our carbon footprint will reduce.”

Agriculture contributes 48 percent of New Zealand’s carbon emissions, but Mr Key said technology to address that is not far away.

“My scientists tell me within three to four years they are going to have nailed that.”

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest, redemption is at hand.  John Key has the solution to Aotearoa’s greenhouse gas emission issues.  Is this why National has slashed funding of research into agricultural emissions? Because they have already discovered the solution?

The second example is the Government’s release of a discussion document on the Emissions Trading Scheme. I do not know why they go through this charade. The ETS is completely broken, a pale imitation of what it needs to be. It is meant to make business adopt less polluting behaviour but it is failing.

There are two basic reasons.  The first is the Government is happy for those who have to purchase carbon credits to purchase ultra cheap and dodgy foreign credits thereby negating the need to change behaviour.  The second is because the industry that contributes half of the total emissions, that is agriculture, is not even in the scheme.

The discussion paper sets out the government’s rationale for excluding agriculture. I bet you that perfectly decent intelligent public servants typed this paper through gritted teeth.

Remember the ETS is designed to change behaviour. You would think that agriculture, being by far the biggest emitting sector, should be obliged to be part of the scheme so we could actually reduce emissions.  But the Government’s frankly BS conditions for agriculture to be added are:

  • there have to be economically viable and practical technologies available to reduce emissions,
  • our trading partners have to make more progress on tackling their emissions in general.

As to the first bullet point according to John Key the technology is only three to four years away. So the Government’s response ought to be “Hell yeah bring it on.  Within three to four years we will have the technology, John Key said so.”

As to the second bullet point well pretty well every other country is planning to do better than we are.  And besides, do we say “well stuff the environment and the world’s future because country ABC is not making more progress on tackling its emissions”.  Such frankly puerile primary school playground responses should never be an acceptable response from a sovereign government.  Ever.

If you are upset by this, and presuming you have a pulse and a functioning brain and a desire for a future you will be upset, make a submission. Tell the Government that according to John Key scientific nirvana is just around the corner and of course agricultural emissions should part of the ETS.

And pray for your mokopuna.  And turn up to the climate change protests this weekend.  Our fragile delicate wonderful world deserves nothing less.

26 comments on “Why the ETS Review needs to include agriculture”

  1. vto 1

    everybody knows that John Key just makes shit up as he goes

  2. tracey 2

    The bit that rings true is IF Key thinks money can be made by cleaning up and stopping polluting, he will be in like Flynn… if it’s just about the environment, the future, our grandchildren and children…. yeah but nah

    • Sacha 2.1

      By the time other countries are banning our products because of our shameful foot-dragging, Johnny will have moved on to his next gig.

  3. Corokia 3

    They say that agricultural emissions can’t be reduced yet, but what they mean is that the emissions per cow can’t be reduced yet. Why can’t the number of cows be reduced?
    It’s not as if it even makes economic sense to be dairying right now.

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    The only time the National Federated Farmers Government believes in global warming is when they use it for the incorrect argument that more irrigation will be needed. Ignoring the fact that demand actually goes up with irrigation projects putting more pressure on water supplies, especially during periods of drought.

    • Chooky 4.1

      agree with this generally…however there have been some good articles on climate change and TPP in the farmer newspapers and some individual farmers are very much aware with tree planting and QEII covenants…also there are farmers who oppose irrigation schemes which drain aquifers and reduce water tables ( some on the ECan marches)..and they are aware that dairying should not be conducted in unsuitable areas without rainfall eg Canterbury

      what is needed is leadership, direction and good stewardship of the land from government…R&D into suitable land use for climate /marketing/ markets

      where is the Labour Party on this?…they should be stalking jonkey and showing him up

  5. Manuka AOR 5

    “As to the second bullet point well pretty well every other country is planning to do better than we are.”

    Even local government bodies are setting clear goals and making commitments that put our country to shame. For example, “Leading British cities have signed up to a pledge to run entirely on green energy by 2050 as local governments push for accelerated change ahead of next week’s UN climate change summit in Paris. Councils run by the opposition Labour Party including Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and many London boroughs have vowed to become “100 percent clean” before 2050, in line with the commitments to be made nationally and internationally at the Paris summit.”

    “Other cities involved include Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow and Sheffield.”

    “If met, the pledge would help reduce Britain’s carbon emissions by 10 percent, and if adopted by cities globally could “deliver cuts in carbon pollution on par with the annual output of a large economy like India,” Nandy said.” https://uk.news.yahoo.com/big-uk-cities-vow-run-green-energy-2050-152740420.html#ykIXI76

    • Bill 5.1

      The ‘if met’ is the kinda crucial bit. Watched a presentation given in Manchester on what they would have to do. Given that it was by Anderson, all the stuff I’ve alluded to below in comment 6 was stripped out and the bare science with plausible scenarios based on that science was presented.

      My take – it won’t be happening. There is neither the funding, the political will nor the public knowledge to drive it – though fine words abound at ten a penny.

  6. Bill 6

    I am actually quite confident, over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, the world will adopt so many new technologies actually our carbon footprint will reduce.”

    Unfortunately, every fucking government and every government policy unit the world over (I’d genuinely love a list of exceptions!) is spouting the same shite.

    There will be technology to suck CO2 from the air.
    There will be widespread adoption of electric cars.

    Worse, they are having that shite, and more besides, factored into climate modeling with the result that all major models – the ones that governments use to determine policy – have a huge rosy bias.

  7. weka 7

    We really are a shameful apology of a country now. We’ve become the epitome of self-centred privilege and I’m alright jack.

    Thanks once again r0b for your work on this.

  8. JNZ 8

    He’s also probably talking about how scientists are trying to change ruminant animals and what they eat to reduce their emissions. What could possibly go wrong?

    “NZADGGRC deputy director Dr Andy Resinger told the Herald earlier this year: “The problem right now is cows produce methane because that’s just part of how they function and we can’t change that — yet.”


  9. Heather Grimwood 9

    Mmmmmm…I thought many of the scientists losing their jobs were working on this area.How does Key reconcile this with what he is quoted above to have said?

    • David 9.1

      There is no need for them, the science is settled isn’t it?

    • Sabine 9.2

      Agriculture contributes 48 percent of New Zealand’s carbon emissions, but Mr Key said technology to address that is not far away.

      “My scientists tell me within three to four years they are going to have nailed that.”


      His scientists, the one that just got fired where someone elses scientists. But HIS Scientists, the one he bought, or imported, or conjured, or enslaved, or just pulls by their ponytails are gonna fix it all in 3-4 years….and now gonna watch his drive, and stuff.

      the man is a looser, and he is not even trying to hide it anymore. The only ones having a hard time with it are those that have voted several times for him, and now wake up to the petulant little fobdoodle that he is.

  10. savenz 10


    “I am actually quite confident, over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, the world will adopt so many new technologies actually our carbon footprint will reduce.””

    Real motivation – NOT in my lifetime will I reduce our carbon footprint!

    Yep leave it for someone else to clean up the mess and live with the consequences John, a bit like our burgeoning debt, pollution and inequality crisis….

  11. shorts 11

    scientists have already solved the problem NZ faces – we focus on the wrong sort of agriculture… you can’t mitigate this simple fact – dairy is destroying our country

    Now we just wait on the market to work its magic

    • Lol, the market’s magic is exactly what got us into this mess, and there’s no sufficient price signal on emissions or on pollution to stop intensive farming or over-dairying. Even with the price signals on dairy no longer so inflated, this still isn’t going to stop intensification of livestock farming in general.

  12. Red Rosa 12

    Has anyone quantified the farmers’ subsidy $’s for the current ETS setup?

    Way back when the ‘fart tax’ of $300 per farm was mooted, the actual cost to the taxpayer per farm, under Kyoto, was some $30 000.

    What is the per farm figure today?

  13. Rosemary McDonald 14

    In the meantime, Metservice, a State Owned Enterprise releaeses the Weather Report for the 12th August 2050

    • nadis 14.1

      The cars in 2050 look a bit shite. Hardly seem to have progressed at all from today. I thought we’d all be using driver-less Tesla anti-gravity cars.

  14. b waghorn 15

    The ets needs to be abolished it will never achieve a single thing .
    Any carbon tax that is collected should be spent directly on research to mitigate the affects of the industry that that tax came from.

    Even if a future government adds farming to an ets it will not reduces the amount of stock farmed in this country,it will just be absorbed as a cost of doing business.

  15. Venezia 16

    In the meantime the most sensible response is to Eat less meat and less dairy foods.

  16. Smilin 17

    Yep Key is blighty weather alright rotting our spuds and our agriculture because Key isnt Mr Everything he thinks he is, somethings money cant buy but can kill a nation in the hands of pricks like him and Natcorp
    Come on NZ take these Natcorp bastards to the cleaners

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