Farmers have 'trepidation' Zero Carbon Bill will impact sector - Fed Farmers

  • 07/06/2018

An agricultural leader says his sector has "some trepidation" that taking steps to protect the environment may have an unnecessary impact on the farming community.

Federated Farmers dairy sector chair Andrew Hoggard is keeping a close eye on the Zero Carbon Bill, with public consultations opening on Thursday.

The proposed legislation would put climate change targets into law, in line with the goal of the country becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

"The key thing most farmers want to see with the Zero Carbon Bill is that it recognises the difference between methane and carbon dioxide," Mr Hoggard told The AM Show.

"Methane is 75 percent of the gases that come from agriculture but it is a short-lived gas, unlike carbon dioxide - so it basically recycles."

Mr Hoggard says the two are often confused, but if methane emissions remain "static", have no greater impact. He says dropping methane levels by "4 or 5 percent" would bring them back to 1990 levels.

He added it "wouldn't make any sense" if the Government considers cutting back on farming as a solution.

"New Zealand feeds about 40 million people in the world, so if we reduce our agricultural production by 20 percent to supposedly reduce emissions by 20 percent, there is effectively 8 million people that will be looking for food elsewhere and it probably won't be done as well as what it is in New Zealand."

But Forest and Bird climate advocate Adelia Hallett told The AM Show no sector necessarily needs to be concerned by any potential changes, as long as we keep ahead of the game.

"We need to change our headspaces," Ms Hallett says.

"We need to actually understand that if we don't do something now, life as we know it is going to change."

Ms Hallett says it's "brilliant" that New Zealand is taking the steps towards being carbon-neutral by 2050 - but our affinity with cars needs to be addressed.

"We've got one of the highest rates of per capita emissions in the world. It's time we really did something about that."

Mr Hoggard says he trusts Climate Change Minister James Shaw to do the right thing.

"[Mr Shaw is] very genuine in wanting to solve a problem and not putting a boot into anyone's sector."

But he says it's "hard to say what's going to come out" of the six-week consultation because the Government's made up of a coalition who all have "very different views" on the matter.