DairyNZ made a submission on the Zero Carbon Bill as it progressed through parliament in 2019.
About the Zero Carbon Bill
New Zealand is already one of the lowest emissions producers of dairy nutrition in the world but, right now, the dairy sector is responsible for 22.5 percent of all New Zealand’s emissions. We are committed to playing our part in addressing climate change for the emissions we produce on-farm.
As it stands, the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will put in place targets to reduce all greenhouse gases:
- Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide have to reduce to net zero by 2050.
- Methane has a 2030 target to reduce by 10%, and a provisional target of 24-47% reduction by 2050
What does this mean for farmers?
Each farm will need to estimate its current emissions and, over time, develop a farm-specific plan to manage and reduce these emissions through farm management improvements. Although any level of emissions reduction represents a challenge for our sector, we think it needs to be managed alongside the broader environmental issues, like water quality, biodiversity and erosion control.
Changes won’t come into effect immediately, but there are steps farmers can start taking now to prepare.
1. Know your numbers – calculate your on-farm emissions. Overseer can do this.
2. Think about what farm management changes you could make to reduce your emissions.
Here are two to consider:
- Improve feed efficiency – this is the best way to reduce methane emissions. Research shows there’s a direct correlation between feed intake and methane produced.
- Reduce and improve your use of nitrogen fertiliser – this is the best way to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
3. Also, keep an eye out for future technologies being developed. For example, a slow-release methane inhibitor, achieving a 30 to 50 percent reduction in methane, is likely to be available to farmers by 2050.
To learn more about how you can reduce emissions on your farm see the Mitigation options page.
Climate Change Commission
An independent Climate Change Commission will be set up to advise the Government on emissions reduction targets through advice, guidance, and regular five-yearly “emissions budgets”. Emissions budgets act as stepping stones to guide New Zealand towards the larger 2050 target.
Five yearly reviews of targets
The proposed five yearly reviews of the reduction targets will ensure the reduction we are working towards is fair compared to the reductions made by other sectors, such as transport, and the reduction commitments made by other countries. It will also take into consideration the technological solutions and mitigations available to farmers.
Climate change adaptation
The Bill also creates a legal obligation on the Government to plan for how it will support New Zealand towns and cities, business, farmers and Iwi to adapt to the increasingly severe storms, floods, fires and droughts we are experiencing as a result of climate change.
Regardless of the target chosen, New Zealand needs to be planning for a different climate. DairyNZ supports a commitment to plan early and avoid sudden change. This will allow all sectors to transition over time.
Read more about options to reduce your greenhouse gases here.
What is DairyNZ going to do to help you?
- Work with you to drive efficiency and profit
- Keep investing in research and development to create breakthrough technologies to reduce emissions
- Respond by trying to influence the policy package to make it as fair and equitable as possible