Farmers confused after new climate change report

New Zealand's agriculture business is under pressure to make changes following the recent report into climate change.

The intergovernmental panel for climate change wants global methane emissions to be cut by 35 percent by 2050, and it's left Kiwi farmers confused.

Andrew Hoggard of Federated Farmers says farmers are unsure of what they actually need to achieve.

"There's quite a few messages coming through, and you're not quite sure what the amount is and what is the target," he said.

That's because for a long time, methane has been treated differently because it's a short-lived gas.

Compared to carbon dioxide, for example, this remains in the atmosphere for centuries - but revised calculations show methane is actually more potent than carbon dioxide.

Anita Wreford of Lincoln University says the way we've been farming has served New Zealand well, but now we're reaching some limits.

Ms Wreford is the only New Zealander to be working on the next big IPCC report, which will focus on those limits.

"We're trying to examine the balance between achieving global food security, as well as adapting to climate change and reducing our emissions," he said.

"So I don't think there's any questions that we stop farming, but we certainly need to look at how we do it."

Federated Farmers says New Zealand farmers have been improving their efficiency in regards to emissions by 1.3 percent each year, and they say to push any harder will impact the economy and population as a whole.

But Greenpeace Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner Gen Toop says the cost of climate change will have a greater impact on our economy.

"We have 10 years to fast-track a reduction in cow numbers, and a transition away from industrial livestock farming in New Zealand."

The climate change conversation is a complex and costly one, but the IPCC has made it very clear the time for talking is running short.