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Fed Farmers: ‘Vague improvements’ to emissions levy not enough

The Government’s recently announced changes to their plan to price agricultural emissions were “vague improvements” that are simply not enough, Federated Farmers says.
The farming advocacy group said it remained opposed to pricing agricultural emissions while the government remained focused on the primary purpose of using the price of methane as a ‘stick’ to achieve reduction targets, and without any commitment by the government to base those targets on what is the actual scientifically required reduction in methane from agriculture by 2050 for it to be warming neutral and causing no additional warming (the goal set for all other greenhouse gas emissions).
Feds has only just received a copy of the government’s final report and is still considering the detail, or what seems to be a lack of detail.
“The response is so high level, we may not be able to clearly understand the detail until we actually see it when introduced as legislation next year,” Federated Farmers national president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.
At a high level some of the changes seem to be improvements and it appears to have somewhat moved back closer to the original He Waka Eke Noa proposal from industry in May. But large concerns and unrealistic timelines remain in place.
“Feds stick by the position we took in our submission, that without a review of the methane targets based on what is required for warming neutrality and for methane to contribute no additional warming, we will not be giving our support to any pricing mechanism. Considering what is at stake, vague promises of an obscure future review with unknown terms of reference are simply not good enough.
“As our past president Katie Milne saw first hand when involved with the Agricultural discussions at COP27 on behalf of the World Farmers Organisation last month, the whole world is watching on, aghast at what New Zealand is doing, in a midst of a global food crisis, seemingly aloof to the potential impacts.
“Everyone else is talking about food security, and working with farmers to develop practical on-farm solutions. Only New Zealand is taking the punitive step of taxing efficient, unsubsidised food production, even if it comes at huge costs.”
“At present, New Zealand’s 2050 target is based on cherry-picking data from a 2018 international report that explicitly warns against using this data to inform domestic policy. This clear warning was later reiterated by a lead author of the report, when he was in New Zealand in 2019. Frustratingly, despite these warnings, the New Zealand Government continues to justify the current unscientific targets by misusing this 2018 report.
“We need targets based on the NZ context, so farmers know what we really need to do to play our fair part in the global sense. This does not exclude us going beyond those targets if that is what customers want, or technologies come about that enable us to do more, and we should be open to that, but this shouldn’t be via regulation it should be through markets signals, or so that farmers are rewarded for going above and beyond, these regulations offer no carrots only a lighter stick for going over and above.”