It will set a 2050 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and proposes to set five yearly emissions budgets fifteen years in advance to help us get there. The Bill also plans to establish an independent Climate Change Commission and put a plan in place for how we can adapt to the ongoing impact of climate change. Over the past six weeks the public were asked to provide feedback on these issues.
DairyNZ is supportive of what the Zero Carbon Bill aims to achieve. A definite 2050 target and five yearly emission budgets will help provide certainty for agriculture in New Zealand, and importantly allow all industry groups plenty of time to transition in the way we work.
The Bill, and consultation, doesn’t cover whether an alternative method should be used to calculate New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. Nor does it ask whether methane should even be included in New Zealand’s greenhouse gas inventory. An international group of experts have decided how methane and other greenhouse gases must be calculated and reported, and the Government is not currently looking to change this method. Evidence based science will continue to guide these decisions.
The consultation also doesn’t ask whether and how agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme. This will be a decision for the Government after guidance from the Climate Change Commission at a later date.
DairyNZ has submitted to support the second option proposed by the Government for a 2050 emission reduction target: to reduce long-lived gases (like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) to net zero, and stabilise short-lived gases (like methane) at a reduced level.
There is strong scientific evidence for methane to be treated differently to long lived gases. DairyNZ agrees with scientific experts that if methane is stabilised at a specific level, it will not cause any additional warming (unlike carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide which build up in the atmosphere for hundreds of years).
Any decision made about which level of methane stabilisation is most achievable and appropriate will include a robust and science-based analysis by Government, scientists and industry. DairyNZ intends to help provide scientific evidence and be fully involved in such discussions.
Emissions budgets will set out how much greenhouse gas New Zealand can emit over a shorter period of time, and will be designed to ensure we are on track to meet our larger 2050 target.
DairyNZ submitted to support three sets of five yearly emissions budgets, but with the ability to alter the third budget, and amend the second budget under exceptional circumstances. What we are asking here is for flexibility in how methane is treated, while we await long term technological solutions to methane reduction. We want to be sure that the budgets the dairy sector is working towards are achievable.
You can view DairyNZ's full submission on the Zero Carbon Bill, and our climate change position, at www.dairynz.co.nz/zero-carbon.
Jim van der Poel