Monday, 16 May 2022 13:55

Partnership to reduce ag emissions

Written by  Staff Reporters
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor. Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

The Government will commit $710 million over the next four years to accelerate efforts to lower agricultural emissions, expand the contribution of forestry to reduce carbon, and produce alternative ‘green’ fuels.

The funding comes from the Government’s Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says New Zealand’s economic security is dependent on its food and fibre sector.

“It’s our biggest export earner but also our largest contributor to emissions, and if we don’t take action now we will be at risk as consumer preferences evolve,” O’Connor says.

“The key to our continued success rests on our ability to produce world-leading food and fibre products that keep pace with consumer expectations and maintain our clean and green brand. This investment will not only sharpen our competitive edge in the future, it will also unlock opportunities for careers in agri-tech and generate export revenue through product development.”

He says the Government is allocating close to $339 million to accelerate the development of high-impact technologies and practices to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, including the establishment of a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.

“The Centre is about applied research that drives product development. The He Waka Eke Noa partnership has highlighted the demand from farmers and growers for products that will shift the dial on-farm so our sector can hit our emissions reductions targets. The sooner tools are ready for farmers the sooner we move on our goal of biogenic methane reduction of 10 percent by 2030 and 24 to 47 percent by 2050.

“It will partner with key businesses. Work is progressing with the private sector on how they can contribute their expertise and resources,” O’Connor says.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash says $73.5 million from Budget 2022 will go towards increasing woody biomass, which he says offers the best alternative to coal in the Government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

“We want to ensure we have home-grown clean energy solutions to replace the use of coal in industrial process heat. This will increase our energy security and means we are less reliant on coal,” Nash says.

He says the new funding will increase New Zealand’s biomass supply by enabling the planting of 10,000ha of forest.

“Forests can provide an abundant, natural resource to store carbon. Funding of $256.2 million will go towards maximising the contribution of forestry in boosting carbon sequestration to achieve New Zealand's future carbon goals.

“New funding will scale up native seedling production to increase native forest planting and create long term carbon sinks. It will also fund targeted research and development, and stimulate private sector investment to help transform our forestry and wood processing into a high-value, high-wage sector,” Nash says.

Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri says the funding will help iwi-Māori to lower emissions in their growing primary sector businesses.

“Māori agribusiness has a big role to play in the years ahead as we make the most of blending our traditional knowledge to protect the land and environment and help drive productivity,” Whaitiri says.

"It’s about determining the most appropriate uses for our whenua, adopting new technology to reduce emissions, and providing on the ground support to make the changes.”

O’Connor says Budget 2022 initiatives, including just over $6 million to support the implementation of a pricing system for agricultural emissions, and $35.4 million to support farmers, growers and whenua Māori entities to transition, would complement existing initiatives underway.

“There’s a tonne of work happening in this field that can be built on, such as low emissions sheep, nitrate inhibitors and methane inhibitors for ruminants. The Government’s commitment includes integrated farm planning, supporting the more than 170 farmer-led catchment groups across the country, and the many industry-led innovation projects enabled through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund,” O’Connor says.

“There’s a lot resting on our ability to boost productivity and the value of our products, while driving down environmental impacts. These Budget 2022 initiatives will accelerate these efforts and propel us along our Fit For a Better World food and fibre roadmap.”

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