With 1990 the base year for our emissions targets it makes one think about 1990 and what was happening in NZ at the time. We were all a lot younger of course and while it would be easy to think that life was more carefree back then it probably wasn’t. Droughts were pretty common back then and so too were tropical cyclones. They say with global warming there are going to be more droughts and more cyclones but if that happens I think it is more likely just a return to those previous weather patterns. In Northland summer dry was what was expected every year right up until the early 90’s and since then farming has been much easier.
Despite this livestock numbers in NZ are lower than they were in 1990. On the face of it this is pretty sad really for a country that relies on Agriculture so much. Stock units in 1990 were 102,750,606 and in 2005 they were 98,870,893.
That is a drop of 3,879,713 stock units which is equivalent to a drop of over half a million dairy cows.
The question I have been asked is that with such a drop from 1990 levels why is there any liability for agricultural emissions? The answer is that emissions are based on production not stock numbers. Production has increased despite these drops but it may be worthwhile re examining the methane emissions data they use per kg of product because if it is coming from less animals the efficiency must be greater. Also with farming methods ranging from intensive to low input, any emission data that is used to calculate farm liabilities needs to be recent and farm specific.
That will be a problem for the Government if ever they try to calculate a farmers carbon liability. The push is for emissions to be taxed at farm gate and this may be a way to make the job as daunting for the Government as we can, hopefully it will be so daunting for them, they will put it off a while.