The 2020 COVID-19 lockdown was the only time in 20 years that New Zealand’s carbon emissions fell
The good news is that although annual average global greenhouse gas emissions reached their highest levels in human history from 2010 to 2019, the rate of growth has slowed. But it’s not thanks to New Zealand.
New Zealand will meet its 2020 international emissions reduction target under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but only through a combination of emission reductions, removals and credits international carbon.
Under CP1 of the UNFCCC’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), New Zealand was to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels. Instead, our emissions increased by 33%.
“Achieving the 2020 goal is encouraging, but there are bigger and more important goals going forward,” Shaw said.
The Zero Carbon Act, passed in 2019, sets a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 24-47% reduction in methane emissions by 2050.
But the Climate Change Commission warned the government in June last year that the government’s policies were not good enough to meet its targets and that methane would have to be reduced to 49-60% below 2017.
The emissions reduction plan to be presented in May will set out how New Zealand will aim to meet its first emissions budget (2022-2025) and chart the course towards achieving our long-term climate goals of net zero emissions. 2050.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has given himself $6 billion for the next budget and $4.5 billion is set to go to the new Climate Emergency Response Fund, which will spend proceeds from the ETS in initiatives to combat climate challenges.
Time to tax agriculture?
Agriculture is the only sector currently untaxed under the ETS, so in 2019 the government decided to tax agricultural emissions and asked the Committee on Climate Change to advise on how this could be done.
But the agricultural sector did not want the government to decide on its own. Sector leaders have proposed that the government work in partnership through a proposal called He Waka Eke Noa.
The industry has until 2025 to find a solution or risk falling into the ETS. But even if agriculture were included in the EU ETS, it would benefit from a 95% discount.
A recent discussion paper showed that the arrangement currently proposed by industry would result in reductions in total agricultural emissions of less than 1% from 2017 levels, at a cost of up to $430 million per year.
National Leader Christopher Luxon opposes stock reduction to meet our targets.
“Agriculture generates 80% of our overseas export revenue, it’s $9,000 for every New Zealander in the country, it employs over 380,000 people and feeds 40 million people globally” , he said on Tuesday.
“This logic of ‘we have to butcher our herd’ to set up our emissions is not good for the world because we are already the most carbon-efficient producers in the world, and all we do is meet the demand of those 40 million people we feed, and it will go to another less carbon-efficient country.
“We need to change our mindset a bit, stop being so negative and see farmers as bad guys, and support them to be truly world-class, which means investing a lot more in research and Development.”
Federated Farmers is pushing for increased use of products like Bovaer, which goes into animal feed and is said to have the potential to reduce methane emissions by up to 30%.