Tuesday, 02 July 2024 10:30

Agri sector urged to keep focus on emissions efficiency

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris. Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris.

The primary sector has been told to continue the journey to sustainably reduce emissions despite a regulatory breather from the Coalition Government.

The message was relayed at the opening of the Primary Industries Summit in Wellington today by Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris.

At the Summit, Charteris also launched a new paper titled Maintaining Our Emissions Edge -the third in a series of white papers developed by Rabobank aimed at helping New Zealand’s 50,000 farmers and the wider agri sector with the transition to producing more food with a smaller emissions footprint.

Charteris noted that many rural voices have been saying for some time that necessary transitions were being rushed and, in some instances, forced on farmers through unsympathetic government policies and stifling regulations.

“The paper notes the new Coalition Government has taken steps to provide a regulatory breather for under pressure farmers. This includes removing agriculture from the Emissions Trading Scheme within an overall lighter touch regulatory regime,” he says.

“Taken at face value, this has given Kiwi food producers an expanded window of opportunity to transition their businesses.”

However, Charteris adds that it would be unwise for farmers and the Government to ‘coast’ during this respite before resuming the journey to sustainably reduce emissions from New Zealand agriculture.

“Other voices at the policy table are getting louder. These include those of the world’s most powerful food processing and marketing companies and the wider supply chain, who face significant regulatory pressure to minimise emissions,” he says.

“One recent review found that over 805 of New Zealand’s exports are destined for countries with mandatory climate-related disclosures either in force or on the way.”

“At the same time, free trade agreements are increasingly laden with enforceable obligations on emissions and other sustainability targets. And this growing web of international obligations will not afford New Zealand food producers the same patience as the New Zealand Government has extended to them.”

Rabobank is encouraging farmers and the Government to avoid coasting, and rather use the reset of dialogue and timeframes to move the sector forward to protect its pre-eminent role in global food production.

“As highly efficient producers, New Zealand farmers and growers face at least equal opportunities as risks,” he says.

“More broadly, as a farming nation, over the past decade we have felt the impact of climate change manifesting at rapid pace in unprecedented weather patterns.

“Being New Zealand’s only specialist food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank believes that what’s good for the planet is also good for our clients’ businesses.

“Importantly, just as the issues around climate change and greenhouse emissions have not arrived overnight, nor will the solutions.”

“And in the interests of working constructively towards finding those solutions, Rabobank suggests New Zealand’s food and agriculture sectors will be well served to read the economic signals and maintain a focus on reducing emissions despite the current respite from local regulations.”

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