NZ Herald Political Editor Audrey Young writes in the NZ Herald that it was NZ First that refused to allow National’s preference for the Climate Commission to set the methane targets to be incorporated in to the Carbon Zero Bill. It is a sickening read as Audrey gushes over what she calls Jacinda’s ‘talent’. Here it is if you can stomach it. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12279768
Despite insisting on these crippling targets NZ First is claiming it is the farmers friend because it listened to farmers and kept them out of the ETS and in any case NZ First has capped farmers obligations in the backstop ETS at 5%. This discount is similar to most trade exposed industry so it is not the special favour NZ First thinks it is.
The problem is that the 10% methane reduction target by 2030 in the carbon zero bill is not compatible with the industry agreement on emissions or the ETS backstop policy.
Some individual farmers may be able to reduce emissions by 10% by retiring land or changing land use or even getting more efficient but the industry as a whole will not, so once the carbon zero bill is passed the climate commission will have to measure emission reduction progress against the 10% target and it won’t be satisfied.
Trying to stay out of the ETS was the right thing for farmers to do because it is completely the wrong tool for the job and also it would not achieve anything other than make farmers poorer, but it might turn out to have been the least costly option as farmers grapple with the problem of having to reduce total emissions as a sector. No other sector has any requirement to reduce emissions and they don’t. So whether reducing emissions turns out to be more costly or less costly than buying carbon credits we will find out in the fullness of time.
The industry agreement is also fortuitous for the Government because the Carbon Zero bill puts the responsibility to reduce emissions on the Government not farmers and what was lacking in the bill was any policy tool to shift that responsibility on to farmers. This agreement gives them that.
It should be noted that farmers have been producing more for less emissions already and that efficiency gain will no doubt continue but the carbon zero bill does not recognize emission intensity gains, just reductions in total emissions. Barring some magic bullet being developed that sort of reduction will only be achieved by a cap on agricultural production.
NZ First can claim what it likes but it is selling farmers down the road here as these targets in the carbon zero bill that it insists on are unfair, unjustified, too onerous and completely unscientific.
There are no CO2 2030 targets but there is a 2030 methane target
Any CO2 targets (including net zero by 2050) are conditional on economic and scientific factors among others whereas the methane targets are not conditional at all and must be met regardless.
The goal of the bill is to stop NZ emissions causing further increases in global temperatures by 2050. Apart from the futility of our small emissions compared to the vastness and complexity of global climate, the global warming scientists themselves are clear that CO2 needs to reduce to zero but methane need do no more than stabilize. So there is no justification for any reduction.
Methane has been the one and only emission success story in NZ with emissions only increasing by 4% since 1990 and already stable having stabilized over a decade ago. Compare that to transport emissions which have increased 82% since 1990 and continue to increase. Methane emitters are 40 years ahead of CO2 emitters. It is just a shame the farming sector does not seem interested in telling NZ that.
James Shaw claims the methane targets are justified because they are identified as being necessary in an IPCC report SR1.5. But Shaw is lying when he says this as this report is just an indication of pathway scenarios for emissions reductions and states quite clearly that these scenarios should not be used for national targets. The same report incidentally allows for nitrous oxide emissions to increase by up to 39% whereas the bill sets a target of -100%. So Shaw is devoid of any integrity on this as he mis-uses a document to justify one target and then ignores it to set another.
Added to this the scenario pathway that James Shaw chose to rely on assumes a large global population decline by 2050 which is ridiculous. A more recent IPCC report ‘Climate Change and Land’ in its scenario pathways which align to a growing world population, which is more sensible and likely, has a methane reduction of just 11% by 2050.
The Biological Emission Reference Group (BERG) reported that some farmers will be able to achieve a 10% reduction in emissions by 2030 without significant negative impacts on profitability but for others the impact will be large. So BERG do not predict any benefits to farmers in terms of profitability at all from this bill and large negative impacts for many. The other aspect of this is that BERG state quite clearly that any reduction will come at the expense of production which will either have to decrease or remain static. With a growing world population to not increase production for the next 30 years is pretty selfish and anti human. It will also cause an increase in global emissions as if NZ does not increase production to feed the world then other countries will do so with less efficient production methods causing more emissions than if NZ produced it.
No climate scientists of note supports the targets NZ First insist on keeping in the carbon zero bill. The most onerous of them are around a reduction of 10 to 20% or so by 2050 but they all have quite different takes on it and there is no consensus. The science is not settled on methane at all and that is an absolute fact. One could also add just as a side note and a sad commentary on how we have allowed ourselves to be so duped in to sacrificing farm profitability, there has never been a scientific link established between livestock emissions of methane and global warming. Just saying.