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Independent panel to review NZ methane targets - Ministers

Author
Cherie Howie,
Publish Date
Sat, 6 Apr 2024, 4:43pm

Independent panel to review NZ methane targets - Ministers

Author
Cherie Howie,
Publish Date
Sat, 6 Apr 2024, 4:43pm

Independent experts will review methane targets this year before advising the Government what the country’s domestic 2050 methane target should be, Agriculture and Climate Change ministers Todd McClay and Simon Watts say. 

The advisory panel would review agricultural biogenic methane science and targets for consistency “with no additional warming”, they said. 

Methane is a short-lived greenhouse gas that contributes to warming our climate. Most biogenic methane emissions in New Zealand come from the digestive systems of livestock, such as sheep and cattle, but emissions also come from waste treatment and wetlands. 

Under the Climate Change Response Act, New Zealand has agreed to several international and domestic greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, among them a domestic target of 10 per cent reduction below 2017 biogenic methane emissions by 2030, and a 24 to 47 per cent reduction by 2050. 

The Government was committed to meeting the country’s climate change obligations, and trade partners, the international community and Kiwis expected the agriculture sector to contribute to that, McClay said. 

“A strong agriculture sector is critical to rebuilding the New Zealand economy. This Government … believes sustainable farming practices supported by sensible methane targets will play a critical role in supporting both our environment and economy.” 

The coalition Government was committed to maintaining a split-gas approach to New Zealand’s domestic climate change targets, the Agriculture Minister said. 

“This independent review, which will report back to the Government by the end of the year, will provide evidence-based advice on what our domestic 2050 methane target should be, consistent with the principle of no additional warming.” 

The terms of reference and appointees would be confirmed in “the coming months”, Watts said. 

A panel of “reputable experts” would provide integrity and trust in the process, and would review the latest science on methane’s warming impact before giving their advice, the Climate Change Minister said. 

“The independent advisory panel’s review will complement the Climate Change Commission’s review of the 2050 targets this year and will provide an input into the Government’s response to the Commission’s advice in 2025.” 

NIWA scientists say climate change contributed 20 to 30 per cent more rain to Cyclone Gabrielle, in which 11 people died, hundreds needed rescues and homes, farms, businesses and infrastructure were damaged. Pictured are police rescuing residents on Pakowhai Rd in Napier following the cyclone.
NIWA scientists say climate change contributed 20 to 30 per cent more rain to Cyclone Gabrielle, in which 11 people died, hundreds needed rescues and homes, farms, businesses and infrastructure were damaged. Pictured are police rescuing residents on Pakowhai Rd in Napier following the cyclone. 

Agriculture contributed more than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports, feeding an estimated 40 million people, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard said. 

Its contribution to the 2050 Climate Change targets need to be fair and appropriate compared to other parts of the economy, Hoggard said. 

“It’s important that domestic efforts to cut emissions don’t drive a drop in our agricultural production. 

New Zealand farmers are the world’s most carbon-efficient producers of high-quality food and fibre, and it’s in no one’s interest to see this production filled by other countries with higher emissions profiles.” 

Agriculture's contribution to the 2050 Climate Change targets needs to be fair and appropriate compared to other parts of the economy, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard said. File photo / Alex BurtonAgriculture's contribution to the 2050 Climate Change targets needs to be fair and appropriate compared to other parts of the economy, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard said. File photo / Alex Burton 

Investment in innovative technology was key, Associate Agriculture Minister Mark Patterson said. 

The coalition Government was investing heavily in research and development to provide farmers tools to reduce methane, “not productivity”, Patterson said. 

“We want to ensure that our farmers remain the best in the world and at the forefront of global methane mitigation efforts. 

“We expect a science-led approach is taken to assessing the targets, with the Government and sector working towards practical tools and solutions for our farmers.” 

Cherie Howie is an Auckland-based reporter who joined the Herald in 2011. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years and specialises in general news and features. 

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here. 

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