The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on biological emissions released last month has opened the door to a rethink on agriculture’s contribution to global warming.
In her report she outlines the difference between a cyclical emission such as methane and a fossil sourced emission of CO2. She also summarises the problems of finding a ‘right’ metric to calculate the amount of theoretical carbon produced by belching livestock. She comments that there is no right metric.
The conclusion she does not reach, but should, is that with no ‘right ‘metric to calculate carbon then the carbon unit itself is questionable. There is no other conclusion available.
This article in the Farmers Weekly quotes me commenting on her report, that no credible policy decisions can be made until such time as a carbon accounting system is developed that recognizes the real impact methane emissions have on the atmosphere.
I had support from Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Anders Crofoot and a climate researcher from Victoria University.
Anders Crofoot said this.
“Robin has been at this for a long time now and he has a point. The commissioner’s report shows the methane cycle is quite different. If we could get everyone on the same page and get the conversation going on this it would be a good start. You cannot manage what you cannot measure and that has been a problem for NZ farmers on methane.”
When NZ set up the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) it adopted a single carbon unit approach, something he said was a huge setback for accounting for this country’s unique gas profile.
“The commissioner’s report does recognise biological emissions are quite difficult to deal with.
Crofoot said it would be a valuable first step to get all parties in NZ discussing the differences in gas types and the report had at least opened that door.
Dr Adrian Macey, Victoria University climate change researcher and NZ’s first climate change ambassador, had suggested some separate treatment of gases be implemented under the ETS, changing the methane metric to GTP and bringing agriculture into the ETS.
Macey said the latest discussion opened the door to a rethink on agriculture’s contribution to gas emissions.
Not everyone agrees on what method should be used, but one thing everyone agrees, including the Parliamentary Commissioner and even the Labour party, is that the current treatment of enteric methane is wrong. And that is a pretty good start. The Nats are not budging on this yet but with labour looking at a policy to change the way we treat livestock emissions we can only hope that the Nats will open their eyes. View article Campaigner Seeks Gas Measurement Change