Farmers unhappy as methane target unchanged in Zero Carbon Bill

There is disappointment in the farming community that controversial methane targets in the Government's Zero Carbon Bill have been left unchanged by a Select Committee, despite months of debate and lobbying.

The bill, announced in May targets 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. 

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

Federated Farmers is among rural groups who argued against the target, saying it was unrealistic and would have wide-ranging negative effects on the rural sector.

Federated Farmers vice president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said the decision to leave the target unchanged was a blow.

"Government has missed the chance to take farmers with them," said Andrew Hoggard.
"Government has missed the chance to take farmers with them," said Andrew Hoggard. Photo credit: Newshub

"To say that we are disappointed with the reporting back by the Select Committee on the Zero Carbon Bill is a significant understatement," he said.

"This decision places a huge burden on farmers already feeling the heat from this government."

He said New Zealand’s methane emissions from stock were already trending down, and the move would affect food production.

"We can’t forget the Paris Agreement aims to reduce emissions without harming food production."

"Given the government’s methane targets will force the replacement of sheep and cattle with pine trees, so unless sawdust is suddenly edible, then it seems we are also ignoring the Paris Agreement."

Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Stuff that it appeared the committee could not agree to either upping or lowering the target.

"It seems like the committee has heard from people who wanted a higher methane target and also who wanted a lower methane target, and have not reached agreement to recommend a change. 

"We have set that target in accordance with what we believe is necessary to achieve our 1.5 degree goal," he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the launch of the bill in May that it would provide certainty to industries affected by climate change or which may be contributing to emissions, and said it was "landmark action" that acts as a plan for the next 30 years.