Winston Peters hits back at farmers after carbon bill backlash

Farmers unhappy with the Government's plans for climate change are getting little sympathy from New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

A host of farming groups have expressed their concern about the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

It would create a legally binding objective to limit global warming to no more than 1.5degC, with a net zero carbon approach.

The bill sets out a 10 percent reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, with a provisional reduction ranging from 24 percent to 47 percent the aim by 2050.

However Federated Farmers said the targets are unfair, and would send the message to farmers that New Zealand is prepared to give up on pastoral farming.

"This decision is frustratingly cruel, because there is nothing I can do on my farm today that will give me confidence I can ever achieve these targets," said vice president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

Newshub understands negotiations over the Zero Carbon Bill took longer because New Zealand First didn't agree with the Greens' starting point.

Winston Peters was coy about what went on behind closed doors - but open in his response to criticism from farmers.

"Sometimes the stuff at the end of cows can get into your ears and contaminate your thinking," he said.

Meanwhile DairyNZ said it supported the intent of the direction of the Zero Carbon Bill, but said it's farmers will be concerned about some aspects.

Dr Tim Mackle said farmers need long-term certainty over the issue.
Dr Tim Mackle said farmers need long-term certainty over the issue. Photo credit: Supplied

Chief executive Tim Mackle said the dairy sector is committed to play its part to reduce its biological emissions. 

"Our farmers are committed to sustainable farming practices, and need long-term certainty to make business decisions based on reduction targets," he said.

However he said the 2050 target, of reducing methane by 24 to 47 percent, is based on global scenarios that are not grounded in the New Zealand context.  

"While we can support much of what is in the Zero Carbon legislation, we will be pushing for the range to be reviewed and aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, of 10-22 percent reduction in methane.

"We know our farmers will be concerned by the 47 percent and what that might mean for their livelihoods."