Reactions differ to taking agriculture out of ETS

Cows graze on a paddock on the Taieri, near Dunedin. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Cows graze on a paddock on the Taieri, near Dunedin. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Including agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was "never really appropriate", an Otago farmer says.

The government announced yesterday it would remove agriculture from the ETS, as promised by the National Party as an election commitment.

But an environmental group says the move allows dairy and agribusinesses to avoid taking responsibility for their emissions. In a statement, the government said it would amend the Climate Change Response Act to remove agriculture, animal processors and fertiliser companies from entering the ETS in 2025.

Emissions associated with non-farm activities would continue to be covered by the ETS.

It would also disband the primary sector partnership He Waka Eke Noa and establish a new Pastoral Sector Group to "constructively tackle biogenic methane", it said.

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts said the government would invest $400 million over the next four years to accelerate the commercialisation of tools and technology to reduce on-farm emissions.

Former Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman and Gore farmer Andrew Morrison said it was "never really appropriate" agriculture was included in the ETS.

The conversation around pricing had come way too early, before a science-backed review into methane targets had even been finalised.

"This is a really good outcome because government has acknowledged that it was not fit for purpose in ETS."

Mr Morrison said about 10% of his farm was planted in trees and as a sheep and beef farmer he was integrating lower-methane genetics into his sheep-breeding programme.

However, he was anticipating the government would still have to do something, and he was preparing for that.

It was slightly putting the cart before the horse and he would have liked to see the conclusion of a review into methane targets which the government had signalled.

"It is good that they’ve signalled that they’d work with industry on a working group to work out what they’re going to do now," Mr Morrison said.

"But as I say, the cart before the horse — before they race off and do too much, if they can finalise an independent methane science review that would then inform what work would need to be done after the fact."

Greenpeace Aotearoa spokeswoman Niamh O’Flynn said New Zealand needed to lower its emissions as it had signed up to the Paris Agreement.

"Allowing dairy and agribusiness to continue avoiding responsibility for their emissions via the ETS just means that the rest of us ... will pay the price through increased costs and increasing pollution from climate disasters and fresh water."

The end of He Waka Eke Noa was no great loss as it was designed by the dairy industry to delay climate action, but the new Pastoral Sector Group was "just another version of that", she said.

"It is concerning to see more climate denial from the Luxon government, but it’s not surprising as they seem intent on waging an all-out war on nature."


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