A report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organisation confirms the efficiency of New Zealand as a
livestock farming nation.
However, it also shows there is still more work to be done to
cut New Zealand's agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, the
Green Party says.
The report titled Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock
stated livestock production contributed 7.1 gigatonnes of
carbon dioxide equivalent per year and made up 14.5% of all
greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.
If all producers were as efficient as the most efficient
producers in their sector in their geographic region,
reductions of up to 30% in emissions could be made
immediately on current technology, the report said.
Green Party climate change spokesman Kennedy Graham said the
report was ''positive news'' for agriculturalists in New
''It's an affirmation that even on current technology that
things can be done in regards to greenhouse gas emission
reduction,'' Dr Graham said.
''There could be reductions of up to 14%.''
''There's really nothing to stop us moving on this now,'' he
Federated Farmers vice-president William Rolleston said the
report showed New Zealand farmers were ''way ahead of the
curve'' in terms of carbon intensity.
''The gains to be made are gains to be made in
productivity,'' Dr Rolleston said.
Farmers were ''investing huge amounts'' in increasing
productivity and played an important part in feeding the
world's population, he said.
''The other thing the report said is that animal protein
production is going to need to increase by 70% by 2050 [to be
able to feed the world's population],'' Dr Rolleston said.
New Zealand farmers had a big part to play in that regard, he
He believed the two biggest contributions New Zealand could
make to reducing greenhouse gas emissions was to continue
scientific work into improving production efficiency and to
share its knowledge of best practice with the rest of the
''New Zealand farmers have been improving their carbon
intensity by 2% year on year for the past 20 years,'' Dr
However, Dr Graham said, while New Zealand's reductions might
be less than what other areas of the world could achieve,
there was still scope for improvement.
''Why would we want to prove them wrong?'', he said.
''We don't have time to do nothing other than say science
will take care of this over the next 10 or 20 years,'' Dr
''We have got recognise ... agriculture is hard, but it
doesn't follow that we can't shave off a certain percentage
of emissions, right now, based on current technology.''
While he agreed with Dr Rolleston that New Zealand had a
major role to play in feeding the world's population, dairy
intensification was not the only option, Dr Graham said.
He believed New Zealand could contribute more by
concentrating on mixed farming models.
Dr Rolleston said the report showed New Zealand's farming
model should be celebrated.
''This isn't about standing back and feeling smug about where
we are at, but we are in a leading position and we do need to
celebrate that,'' he said.
- Timothy Brown.