Government announces independent panel to review 2050 methane target

An independent panel is to review the country's methane target, the government has announced.

Climate change minister Simon Watts and agriculture minister Todd McClay announced the review on Saturday.

They said a panel of experts would review the available agricultural biogenic methane science before reporting back to the government by the end of 2024.

They would "provide evidence-based advice on what our domestic 2050 methane target should be, consistent with the principle of no additional warming", McClay said.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

In New Zealand, farm animals, including cattle and sheep, are the source of most biogenic methane emissions - those brought about by living organisms.

Food scraps in landfills are also a source of methane.

Watts said the review would complement a review by the Climate Change Commission of the 2050 targets, also due this year.

"[It] will provide an input into the government's response to the commission's advice in 2025."

The Climate Change Response Act sets out New Zealand's existing domestic biogenic methane emissions reductions targets.

The country has pledged to lower biogenic methane emissions from 2017 levels by 10 percent by 2030 and by 24 to 47 percent by 2050.

Associate agriculture minister Andrew Hoggard said agriculture was the backbone of New Zealand's economy and contributed over 80 percent of our goods exports.

"We need to ensure its contribution to the 2050 Climate Change targets are fair and appropriate compared to other parts of the economy," he said.

"It's important that domestic efforts to cut emissions do not drive a drop in our agricultural production. New Zealand farmers are the world's most carbon-efficient producers of high-quality food and fibre, and it is in no one's interest to see this production filled by other countries with higher emissions profiles."

Associate agriculture minister Mark Patterson said the government was investing in research and development to give farmers practical tools and solutions to reduce methane.

"We want to ensure that our farmers remain the best in the world and at the forefront of global methane mitigation efforts."

McClay said the government remained "steadfast in our commitment to meet our international climate change obligations".