The Ministry for the Environment in a statement referring to farm methane emissions that were the focus of TV One programme ‘Sunday’ said methane emissions have increased by 6% since 1990 and need to come down.
Agricultural methane emissions from livestock have increased by 4.6% in fact, not 6%. MFE were referring to the 6.2% increase in total methane emissions which include non agricultural and non livestock emissions.
Their statement that methane emissions need to come down is also not a factual statement, it is political.
The MFE itself in its zero carbon bill consultation document states quite clearly that stabilising methane emissions would mean our domestic emissions would not contribute to any further increase in global temperatures.
This follows a comprehensive report in 2016 by Motu, Cows, Sheep and Science: A Scientific Perspective on Biological Emissions from Agriculture. The report found that to stabilize the climate methane emissions need do no more than stop increasing, which they did over a decade ago.
James Shaw may want farm emissions down, despite them not needing to, so that he can play to his crowd and he may also support the idea that reducing methane may buy time to reduce CO2 emissions, but there is no scientific certainty about that and whether to do that or not is purely a political decision. The staff at the Ministry for the Environment by getting involved in the politics of this and saying methane emissions must come down are betraying their duty as public servants under the State Services Act.
Methane emissions, which have never been priced in the ETS, are also the one and only emission success story in NZ with emissions only increasing by 4.6% since 1990 and already stable having stabilized over a decade ago. Compare that to transport emissions which despite being priced in the ETS have increased 93.4% since 1990 and continue to increase. Farmers deserve credit not vilification. Also the idea that pricing emissions will cause emissions to reduce is not supported by the facts.
The Ministry’s statement to Sunday is misinformation and its failure to provide context shows how political the public servants employed by the Ministry have become.