Thursday, 08 April 2021 07:55

Editorial: Time to listen

Written by  Staff Reporters
Climate Change Commission Chair Rod Carr Climate Change Commission Chair Rod Carr

OPINION: Now that submissions have formally closed on the Climate Change Commission's (CCC) draft recommendations, released in February, on reducing NZ's emissions profile, will it actually listen and act on the advice it has received?

It is not hard to get cynical about so-called 'consultation'. With this Government - more often than not - it is merely a box-ticking exercise, with little or no real changes made to its overall political objective.

One only has to look at its freshwater legislation and the negligible changes it made to this following 'industry consultation', for the country's farmers to be rightfully nervouse about what regulations will be imposed upon them in the emissions reductions space.

The CCC's draft advice recommended - among a plethora of changes across the economy - the Government should adopt measures that would hugely reduce livestock number on farms and see more good farmland planted in trees.

A number of primary sector bodies made submissions, including Beef + Lamb NZ (BLNZ), DairyNZ, HortNZ and Irrigation NZ to name a few. All had a common theme: they are supportive of the CCC's desire to reduce NZ's emissions and say they are keen to play their part. However, they also point out that crucial changes must be made to the draft recommendations if the country's all-important agri-sector is to survive and thrive into the future.

Both BLNZ and DairyNZ have rightly questioned the CCC's draft carbon budgets for methane reductions. The farming bodies explain that these will go further than is required in the Zero Carbon Act, effectively increasing the scale of the farm sector's challenge without the "robust science, economic or farm system justification".

Farming organisations have also expressed major concerns about the lackof analysis of the socio-economic and distributional impacts of the CCC's proposals - especially the impacts of land-use changes on rural communities. They also point out that "ensuring food production is not threatened" was a key consideration of the Paris Agreement.

The sector has endorsed the CCC's call for the Government to develop and invest in a "long-term, sustained research and development plan to reduce agricultural emissions and mitigate impacts on-farm".

Overall, the agri-sector has raised pertinent and practical points in its submissions. Now it is time for both the CCC and Government to take on board this advice for the benefit of the sector, the country and the planet.

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