Livestock biological emissions continue to be the shining light in the latest inventory of greenhouse gases, with emissions increases since 1990 lower than most other sectors.
Methane emissions, which are the predominant biological emission, have increased by just 5.2% since 1990 while road transport emissions have increased by a massive 101.6% in the same time.
The small increase in methane emissions since 1990 and the larger increase in nitrous oxide still only combine to be an increase of 17.1% for agricultural biological emissions. Meanwhile New Zealand’s energy emissions have increased twice that much at 34% and total emissions have increased by 24% since 1990.
The Inventory is a useful tool to track increases or decreases in individual greenhouse gases compared to previous years, but it is of no value when it quantifies all the different greenhouse gases together, as it does when it calculates agricultural emissions to be 47.8% of our gross emissions of CO2 equivalent or carbon. This is because 74% of agricultural emissions are from methane belched by cattle and sheep and the CO2 equivalent system that calculates our carbon emissions, does not measure the actual warming caused by methane emissions and ignores the fact that methane does not accumulate in the atmosphere in the same way as CO2.
Calculating emissions using the CO2 equivalent system has been widely discredited in science for over 30 years now and people must be very careful before drawing conclusions from an inventory that reports New Zealand’s greenhouse gases using such a scientifically flawed system.
Agriculture producing 47.8% of our gross emissions of carbon does not mean that agriculture is contributing 47.8% of our contribution to global warming, and when combined with the fact that it records such a low increase in emissions since 1990 compared to transport emissions, concluding from this report that agriculture is a major contributor to New Zealand’s contribution to global warming would be a mistake.