Green's Marama Davidson accuses National of denying climate change with new agriculture policy

The Green Party is hitting out at National's agriculture policy saying they're "ignoring" climate change and questioning how they'll meet the 2030 emissions target. 

National revealed its policy on Monday, which won't require farmers to pay for agriculture emissions until 2030 at the latest, five years later than the scheme proposed by the Government.

The policy hasn't pleased everyone. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the National Party "seem to be treating the climate with contempt", while ACT Party leader David Seymour said it's a similar policy to what they previously unveiled and is worried about National trying to poach the voters they lost to ACT in 2020.

"It's good they're moving towards ACT. It's good for us, them, New Zealand and farmers. However, I still notice they're still just kicking the can down the road." 

National's policy also didn't impress those who backed He Waka Eke Noa - a cross-party, industry and Māori partnership to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

National last week announced it was pulling its support for the He Waka Eke Noa-influenced plan.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson didn't mince her words when asked about National's policy on AM Early on Wednesday saying they have their head in the sand. 

"Once again, they've got their head in the sand while the sea levels rise on the beaches around them," Davidson said. 

"It's just another delay, which they have done, I think, for 30 years to see everyone pay their fair share for climate pollution, including the farming and agricultural sector. The public wants people to play their role, to pay their part, including the agricultural sector."

Davidson said National's policy is to "ignore and deny" strong climate action and questioned whether they remembered they still need to meet the 2030 emissions targets. 

"They've been quite silent on how they're going to reach the 2030 targets, they seem to have just stepped over them and gone straight to 2050. But by 2030, we have to halve emissions, they just don't have a plan," she said. 

"This is not a policy, this is a denial, in fact, and it's a delay in taking strong action, which we all need.

"I think we've been reminded again and again in recent months of just how important it is to make sure we do everything we can to reduce those temperatures and warming by reducing our emissions." 

National's policy also proposed to bring an end to the effective ban on genetic engineering and modification. This has been backed by former chief science advisor to the Prime Minister Sir Peter Gluckman and former Lincoln University vice-chancellor Dr Andy West. 

But Environment Minister David Parker said it's troubling National hasn't mentioned the risks that changes to our GE-free brand pose to New Zealand's primary exports.

Hipkins told media on Monday several of New Zealand's exporters put GE-free on their label, which makes them a lot of money. 

He also asked the Prime Minister's chief science advisor to provide him with advice on it and he's waiting for her response. 

When asked about this part of National's policy, Davidson said the Greens are happy with the Government's stance of reviewing genetic engineering and modification, but added it will require wide public consultation. 

She told AM Early this is just another excuse by National to delay reducing agriculture emissions.

"It's also a bit of an insult to the many, many farmers, particularly on the ground, who for many years have been showing leadership stepping up," she said. 

"The Greens believe in more support for farmers to be able to use their land and waters and soils differently and at the same time we must reduce emissions and this side-step by the Nats is just clear denial of what the work has to be to be done."

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson.
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson. Photo credit: AM

Whilst Luxon was announcing his party's agriculture policy, he was caught on a Newshub camera on Monday saying: "We have become a very negative, wet, whiny, inward-looking country and we have lost the plot and we have got to get our mojo back."

Reporters questioned him on Tuesday over what he meant by the remark.

"I'm calling the Labour Government wet and whiny," Luxon replied. "There's nothing wrong with New Zealand or New Zealanders. It's the best country on planet Earth and we have endless potential."

The National leader said New Zealand had gone backwards under the current Government and it would be "positive" under an "ambitious" National Government.

Hipkins appeared startled when Newshub told him what Luxon had said.

"Sorry, Christopher Luxon said that? Well, I guess it makes a change that he is running New Zealand down as opposed to running the country down while he is overseas."

Luxon called New Zealand businesses "soft" while in the United Kingdom last year and once told an Australian newspaper that New Zealand is "fearful, negative and inward".  

Watch the full interview with Marama Davidson in the video above.