8 Jun 2018

Farmers welcome further greenhouse gas discussions

5:08 pm on 8 June 2018

Federated Farmers sees a silver lining in the government's latest proposals on climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions: vehicle, agriculture, electricity.

Photo: RNZ

The government yesterday invited people to respond in a six week public consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill.

This aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The document wants public reaction to three alternative targets, and only one of them brings all greenhouse gases equally into the greenhouse fight.

The other two options give a softer run to livestock-sourced methane than to carbon dioxide.

This could give farmers an easier life during climate change mitigation than they feared.

Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard said it was gratifying to see distinctions made between intensive but short lived greenhouse gases, like methane, and weaker, but persistent, gases like carbon dioxide.

"I think it's good that this part of the discussion is happening now," he said.

"There is this better understanding of the fact that a short-lived gas has a different impact from a long-lived gas and you have to treat them differently."

But Kate Simcock of Greenpeace saw the government proposal as a cop out.

"It looks at including carbon dioxide and reaching net zero on that by 2050," she said.

"But then there are various other approaches to methane and nitrous oxide.

"Our view is that we need to include all sectors and all gases if we want to achieve anything meaningful on climate change and anything less is not good enough."

Meanwhile, newly published research gives some credence to claims by farmers.

David Frame from Victoria University joined European researchers working on this subject and told RNZ's Nine to Noon programme that it was correct that gases like methane lasted for just a short time.

"They have a residence - a half life is if you like - in the atmosphere of about a dozen years.

"So more than half is decayed in 12 years and 95 percent is gone after about 50 years.

"Carbon dioxide lasts for about 1000 years."

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