Farmers ask Government to align domestic, international emissions target

By Eric Frykberg of RNZ

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand's domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane.

But an international pledge via the Paris Accords of 2015 treated all greenhouse gases the same.

Tim Mackle of Dairy NZ said the two policies needed to be brought together.

"Dairy NZ is asking that the Climate Change Commission bring our international emissions reduction target in line with our domestic target as legislated by the Zero Carbon Act," Dr Mackle said.

He said if domestic policy recognised that methane and carbon dioxide behaved differently, then the same science should guide international policy.

"It doesn't make sense to have a split gas policy apply domestically and not to put the same policy forward on the world stage."

In a statement, Beef and Lamb made a similar point.

This debate has come in the wake of a request by Climate Change Minister James Shaw for a review of New Zealand's Paris commitment on climate change to see if it went far enough.

That has raised the possibility of a tougher target being recommended than that proposed by the original Paris pledge five years ago.

Shaw said he would not discuss this ahead of that report by the commission coming out next year.

He also refused to comment on the Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb request for a standardised policy on emissions for the same reason.