New Zealand Government announces New plan for agriculture emissions pricing scheme.

This is great to see that the New Zealand government is looking at reducing carbon emissions with the agricultural sector. Surely the” urban sector” carbon emissions are being produced at an alarming rate as well – where is the Urban Emissions scheme?

This type of policy does seem to be a bit of “kick the can down the road” until 2025 when we need to be taking action now if climate change is happening as fast as everyone is predicting.

The New Zealand Government has moved away from radically reforming the way the farming sector could pay for emissions – but is celebrating what it calls a “world-first” partnership with farming leaders in its attempt to reduce agricultural greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide 

The primary sector is still set to pay for emissions, but not until 2025 – with farmers getting off seemingly lightly in the interim.

The sector would work with Government to come up with its own on-farm pricing scheme, aiming to reduce emissions in the meantime. 

A review in 2022 would develop the alternative pricing scheme, access the sector’s progress in reducing emissions and barriers it faces. 

“If the review finds there isn’t enough progress the Government can put the agriculture sector into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) at processor level earlier than 2025,” a statement by the Government said. 

The proposed Emissions Trading Reform Bill also includes pulling agriculture into the ETS in 2025 for livestock emissions and some fertiliser emissions – if the alternative emissions pricing scheme is not developed. In line with the NZ First-Labour coalition agreement, farmers would only pay for five per cent of livestock emissions. 

Farmers have continuously pushed back from being included in the ETS, with Federated Farmers previously saying it “failed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport… Universal pricing of methane will be similarly unsuccessful”.

The current ETS puts price on greenhouse gas emissions, intended to create a financial incentive for businesses that emit greenhouse gases, to invest in technologies and practices that reduce emissions, according to the Ministry for the Environment. 

The Government’s announcement today acknowledged the ETS “was originally developed for a small number of big companies, not tens of thousands of individuals”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was “proud that we have a world-first agreement as part of our plan to tackle the long-term challenge of climate change and we’ve done that by reaching an historic consensus with our primary sector”. 

“For too long politicians have passed the buck and caused uncertainty for everyone while the need for climate action was clear.”

It was a key climate change policy by the Labour Party in 2017 to “restore the ETS, including bringing agriculture into the ETS by the end of our first term, with 90 per cent of emissions free”. 

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