The Wellington forum’s first day opened on Tuesday with keynote speaker Climate Change Commission chair Dr Rodd Carr, followed by Climate Change Minister James Shaw and speakers from other sectors.
Dr Carr told the group of around 40 Dairy Environment Leaders at the two day forum that all New Zealanders have a responsibility to begin reducing emissions if we are to rise to the climate challenge.
“Human beings have a carbon footprint, no matter what we do,” said Dr Carr. “So it’s about containing it, and how we contain it. The climate waits for no-one. As a nation, we can choose what we do, but we can’t choose not to reduce emissions.
“So it’s about our share of the responsibility. The science is now so clear that we have to act because greenhouse gases are causing the climate to change. The needle on the dial is moving toward doing what we can, when we can.
“There is technical feasibility, economic effects and social acceptance we need to address. I think the journey is underway, we just have to configure how we do it. Long-term, we will need a technological break-through.”
Climate Change Minister James Shaw echoed that view, saying there are diverse tools farmers can use in different farm conditions across New Zealand and there is time to achieve the changes.
“We can get to where we need to, over the next 30 years, with the options we have now,” said Mr Shaw. “Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch, there’s been a lot of good work done in the last five years, including through the He Waka Eke Noa partnership.”
Dairy Environment Leaders chair Melissa Slattery said farmers are committed to playing their part to solve environmental challenges, and have a lot of great work underway already. But she said regulations need to be practical behind the farm gate and have pragmatic timeframes.
“Dairy Environment Leaders Forum is an opportunity for environmentally-minded farmers to get together and discuss the opportunities we see, the challenges we face, and the support that we will need to succeed.”
DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr David Burger said the forum is a valuable opportunity for farmers to hear first-hand the factors being considered for New Zealand’s future, and to ensure decision-makers understand the challenges and practicalities on farm.
“It’s one way our Dairy Environment Leaders can meet and hear from decision-makers, discuss the sector’s future and solutions farmers are rolling out for climate change and water quality,” said Dr Burger.
“Our farmers lead the world in the production of sustainable and low emission milk, and we want to ensure we protect that position.”
About the Dairy Environment Leaders
- The Dairy Environment Leaders (DEL) group was formed by DairyNZ in 2013 to empower leadership and help farmers support other farmers making change to reduce environmental footprint.
- The vision of the DEL programme is to foster kaitiakitanga – stewardship for the future.
- There are now more than 300 DELs throughout the country.
- The DELs provide a voice at regional and national level including with government, sector groups and other sector leaders.
- DELs are active in their communities at grassroots level, on boards and local committees.
- The DELs demonstrate excellent environmental practice on their own farms, including protecting and enhancing waterways, riparian planting and reducing emissions.
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