The Climate Change Commission’s focus on reducing the country’s fossil fuel emissions and its recognition that large-scale forestry planting is not the long-term solution is encouraging, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
“The sheep and beef sector also acknowledges the increased focus on planting native forest and the multiple environmental benefits this delivers such as long-term stable sequestration and enhanced biodiversity,” said Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.
“However, farmers would have liked to have seen greater recognition of the sequestration already happening on sheep and beef farms as a result of their own conservation efforts over the last few decades.”
McIvor went on to note that the commission’s projected increase in new tree plantings, either exotic or native, will also likely still have significant implications for its farmers and rural communities. Fossil fuel emitters should not automatically just be able to dump their pollution on sheep and beef land.
“There are also a number of areas of the report that will be of concern to farmers and we need to study these in more detail to understand the assumptions, methodologies and science used by the commission to underpin some of its advice,” continued McIvor.
“These include the commission’s advice of a 15 percent reduction in sheep, cattle and dairy livestock numbers within the next nine years, analysis of the social and economic impacts of land-use change on communities, the science behind the methane targets including for 2100, and discussion around GWP.”
Sheep and beef farmers have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent since 1990 while improving productivity and generating export value for the country.
“We are the only sector in New Zealand to record this scale of achievement when it comes to reducing emissions. Furthermore, research by the Auckland University of Technology has found the 1.4 million hectares of woody vegetation on New Zealand sheep and beef farms is sucking up between 63 percent and 118 percent of our on-farm agricultural emissions.
“We are also making good progress with the Government’s He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Change Action Partnership to reduce primary sector emissions and enable sustainable food and fibre production for future generations. We remain committed to continuing our 20 years of substantial investment in research and innovation to reduce agricultural emissions.”
B+LNZ recognised the comprehensive work by the Climate Change Commission and the detailed analysis and hard work that has gone into its first major report.
“We now need time to analyse the advice in-depth as this report has significant implications for our farmers and rural communities.”