This week's proposal by the Government for a price on agricultural greenhouse gases and fertilizer is the last chance for the agriculture sector to meet climate change targets and show consumers that it is serious about tackling climate change.
“For two decades the agriculture sector has fallen well short in taking responsibility for its impact on the climate, despite being responsible for half of New Zealand’s emissions,” climate spokesperson, Geoff Keey says.
“That must stop. It's time for the sector to step up and take responsibility for emissions.”
Following the six-week consultation, Forest & Bird will judge the final plan on whether it cuts emissions, encourages regenerative farming and native forest restoration.
“Recent polling shows that two-thirds of New Zealanders think the Government will be failing New Zealand if they don't act on climate change, and over two-thirds think business will be failing their customers if they don't act on climate change.
“We are looking for assurances that the agriculture sector is held responsible for any failure to meet targets in future,” Mr Keey says.
Forest & Bird is pleased the government has rejected letting the agriculture sector set its own price on emissions.
“That was never credible, but putting the responsibility on cabinet ministers is not much better.
“Industry will lobby hard, and this is just a recipe for failing to meet climate change goals. The price should be based on the national carbon price or through a cap-and-trade system that reduces the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions year on year.”
To support agriculture emission reductions, the government needs to accelerate work to encourage native forest to return to erodible and marginal hill country – one of the many nature-based solutions to climate change Forest & Bird supports.
The same climate change impacts that are hurting nature are hurting farmers too. They are particularly vulnerable to floods, erosion and drought, and society puts a lot of effort into helping them through climate-related extreme weather events.
“That is why sheep and beef farmers need options for more sustainable land use. Restoring native forests on hill country will reduce erosion and flooding, help the country become more resilient to unavoidable climate events and improve biodiversity.”