Feeding the world’s growing population
New Zealand’s reputation as a quality food producer is growing.
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand promotes and encourages responsible and scientifically-based nutrient management.
Climate change is a global challenge which must be addressed by all nations. It is essential that we act to support the efficient and responsible use of natural resources. The Zero Carbon Amendment Bill will provide a much-welcomed framework for emissions reductions. However, what sits under the legislation will be critical to achieving New Zealand's goals for a low emissions economy. In our recent submission on the Bill and our further submission on the government's proposals on 'Action on agricultural emissions', we outlined several factors that will be critical in delivering a successful, productive and competitive low emissions agricultural sector for New Zealand.
We support establishing an independent Climate Change Commission to oversee climate change initiatives. It will be critical that the members of the Commission are independent of the government and between them provide a wide range of expertise and skill relative to not just climate change matters but business, trade and productivity. This will provide a global perspective and help to balance the natural tensions when weighing up the issues and giving advice to the government.
We would also like to see a firm but realistic emissions reduction target set. This should only be changed if there has been a significant change in circumstances and robust independent evidence to justify it. This is important if businesses are to be provided a level of certainty and confidence for investment and planning for development.
New Zealand primary industry producers are among the most efficient in the world. We need to be careful that we do not impose restrictions on producers that will disadvantage them compared to their competitors. This could cause production to move offshore, resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand has the opportunity to display leadership, showing the world how greenhouse gas emission reductions can be achieved while maintaining profitable farming. By developing and demonstrating efficient solutions, including policies, we could lead the way internationally, potentially inspiring a significant reduction in global emissions.
The Fertiliser Association supports a split target approach with short-lived gases, such as methane, having separate reduction targets compared to the long-lived gases, such as nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. We share concerns with the primary sector groups that the targets proposed, while intended to be challenging, may not be achievable. Nil emissions for long-lived gases is not going to be possible, and offsets will be needed to achieve net zero emissions.
Offsets will be particularly important if technological break-through for methane reductions are not forthcoming.
Responsibility needs to be at the farm level, with a phased introduction for reporting and for obligations, to allow development of capability. We propose that government works with industry to gain support to deliver an on-farm emissions management programme and agree on pricing options. Providing farmers with the support and flexibility to meet their obligations will be critical. Farmers need choice about how they go about reducing emissions for their particular property and circumstances, as there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. We would like to see the management of greenhouse gases integrated into Farm Environment Plans (FEP). FEPs can deliver a strategic five-year perspective on priorities for action tailored for the individual farm. We also favour flexibility in who reports on GHG obligations. While the liability associated with emissions best rests with the farmer, flexibility on who reports on the behalf of the farmer will reduce compliance costs. For instance, the report could be done by certified nutrient management advisers.
For the transition to low emissions to be successful there needs to be cross-party agreement and support on enduring greenhouse gas targets. This will ensure a consistent approach that will not be comprised, no matter which government is in power.