21 Jul 2018

Fed Farmers cautions against costly climate change measures

12:35 pm on 21 July 2018

Federated Farmers is warning against climate change measures which could harm New Zealand's ability to pay its way in the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions: vehicle, agriculture, electricity.

Photo: RNZ

The warning has come in a submission to the Zero Carbon Bill, which aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In its submission, Federated Farmers said it supported moves to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet targets agreed at the Paris climate change conference of 2015.

But it said this should not be at the expense of New Zealanders' economic and social wellbeing.

Federated Farmers warned that in the decades to 2050, New Zealand would be grappling with high costs from an ageing population, so there needed to be careful thought about what climate change policy would do to the economy, jobs and incomes.

The group said New Zealand's primary industries earned 64 percent of the country's merchandise export income.

This came from unsubsidised but efficient farms, which faced fewer trade barriers than previously.

Federated Farmers said it would be counterproductive for future governments to impose costs on producers that undermined those gains.

Its submission is one of 14,000, in a process that closed yesterday.

Another submission came from Horticulture New Zealand.

It supported the 2050 goal in principle, but it said growers in the horticulture industry were mostly small to medium sized businesses, and would be vulnerable to any significant increase in costs.

It stressed the importance of New Zealand's international competitiveness and the potential for higher overseas emitters to displace lower emitters who could no longer be competitive in New Zealand.

Much of the latest debate is focussed on the status of methane in the battle against climate change. Methane is an intense but relatively short lived greenhouse gas. Carbon Dioxide is less intense but lasts far longer.

The government has unveiled three alternative scenarios, and only one of them brings all greenhouse gases equally into the greenhouse fight.

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

Federated Farmers supports the latter option.

A lot of methane comes from livestock.

Many green groups insist all greenhouse gases should be incorporated in the fight against climate change.

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