“It is concerning and disappointing that journalists are still reporting that pushback on methane targets in the carbon zero bill is because some political parties are concerned about the cost on farmers. This is not a fair account of the concern farmers have and Pastural Farming Climate Research urges all media to be aware of the farmer concerns and to communicate these accurately. “Robin Grieve Chairman of Pastural farming Climate Research said today
The main reasons why the methane targets in the so called carbon zero bill are wrong.
- The science does not support them.
The Ministry for the Environment states in its consultation document;
Option 2. Reducing long-lived greenhouse gas emissions to zero and stabilising our short-lived gases (methane), which would mean our domestic emissions would not contribute to any further increase in global temperatures.
This means a bill which aims to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 is going to achieve no more than stopping further warming from 2050. So for methane emissions to meet the same requirements they need do no more than stabilize by 2050.
Methane emissions from livestock in NZ have been stable for over decade now, 40 years ahead of time.
2 The Minister is not being honest when he claims the targets in the bill are required to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.
This simply is not true. Scientists have many views but most if not all credible scientists call for reductions way lower than Shaw’s targets to achieve that goal.
Shaw claims the targets are legitimate because they come from pathways indicated in an IPCC report SR1.5, which the IPCC specifically state should not be used as national targets. The Minister is misusing this report in the first place but it should also be noted this pathway applies only in a reduced global population scenario which is so unlikely it should be ruled out. A more recent IPCC report ‘Climate Change and Land’ also has pathways which place methane emissions at a reduction of only 11.7% by 2050 with normal expected population growth. Again these pathways are not supposed to be used for national targets but they do show Shaw has even less legitimacy to his claim the targets are sound, if that is possible.
3 Methane targets in the bill are not conditional whereas all CO2 reduction targets are, including the net zero by 2050. Why is that?
This is an outrageous abuse by the Minister because CO2 targets will be conditional on science among other factors but not methane. He is happy to give the Climate Commission power to determine CO2 targets but not methane. Is he scared that once they factor in the science the Commission may conclude methane reductions are not necessary and that does not suit him politically? Why else would he do that?
4 Reducing methane emissions will by all accounts in all reports require NZ to reduce or at least cap food production. Is that moral?
Would it be moral or honorable for a German manufacturing company to reduce its emissions by making less lifesaving hospital equipment?
Reducing food production or capping production in a world of growing food demand is anti-human and will also most likely cause more global emissions because other countries will have to produce more of the food. NZ by setting these targets is just being selfish. Reducing methane intensity should be a priority but not absolute emissions.
5 There is no projected effective policy mechanism to make farmers reduce emissions, so targets will fail in any case.
The bill cannot bring about a reduction in emissions because it holds the Government to account not farmers. The Government will have to develop further policy to require farmers to reduce emissions. There appear no policy options in the Government’s radar other than pricing emissions through the ETS but all that is likely to do is increase emissions as farmer seek to increase gross incomes to pay the costs of the ETS.
The ETS also provides perverse incentives because it unfairly penalizes farmers who are not increasing emissions and subsidizes farmers who are increasing emissions. So pricing through the ETS will incentivize increasing emissions.
It is possible for farmers to continue to increase production without increasing emissions and that is the best outcome for the planet. That is currently occurring without any intervention by Government but the ETS will likely stop this desired outcome. The Government has no credible anticipated policy that will achieve the 2030 target so why have it?
The targets will not be achieved, particularly the 2030 target whatever the Government does.