Government disbands He Waka Eke Noa, sets up new initiative

The Government has announced a fresh start on plans to reduce methane by axing the partnership tasked with pricing emissions, also known as the "burp tax". 

Coalition Government Agriculture and Climate Change Ministers announced He Waka Eke Noa will be disbanded after years of work. 

Introduced in 2008, He Waka Eke Noa was a partnership between Government agencies, the primary sector and iwi that came up with a proposal for how to price agricultural emissions. It was intended as an alternative to bringing agriculture under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). 

It was long backed by both major parties but National pulled support for the initiative last year after the previous Government rejected the groups' original proposal.  

"It is now clear that Labour's He Waka Eke Noa process has failed and is no longer tenable," Agriculture Minister Todd McClay said. 

"The primary sector worked collaboratively for years, however, Labour rejected many of its proposals compromising consensus, relationships and confidence across rural New Zealand. To restore confidence, Cabinet has decided to formally disestablish He Waka Eke Noa from today. 

"It's time for a fresh start on how we engage with farmers and processors to work on biogenic methane." 

In its place, the Government has announced it will establish a new Pasture Sector Group to tackle biogenic methane. 

The Government and organisations that represent the pastoral sector - DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Deer Industry New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association - will together develop a term of reference for the Pasture Sector Group. 

Later this month, the Government will introduce legislation amending the Climate Change Response Act to remove agriculture, animal processors and fertiliser companies from the ETS before January 1,2025. For these organisations, their emissions associated with non-farm activities will continue to be covered by the NZ ETS. 

Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts said the Government has committed $400 million during the next four years to accelerate the commercialisation of tools and technology to reduce on-farm emissions. Projects include the development of a methane vaccine; a project to breed lower emissions cattle; and accelerating the work on methane and nitrous oxide inhibitors.