ZB

Todd Muller: Why farmers should remain calm about climate change report

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Feb 2021, 4:59pm
Todd Muller (Photo / George Novak)

Todd Muller: Why farmers should remain calm about climate change report

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Feb 2021, 4:59pm

National's trade spokesman Todd Muller has advice for Kiwi farmers who may be concerned by the Climate Change report – remain calm.

"I think farmers in New Zealand should take a deep breath," he told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

The draft advice, released yesterday by the Climate Change Commission, said New Zealand would need to cut livestock numbers by around 15 per cent, halt conventional car imports, decarbonise the energy sector and move Kiwis into electric vehicles - all within 14 years.

In order to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets, the report also suggested an end to coal heating and more forestry.

Muller, who helped draft the Zero Carbon Act in 2019, said the media would most likely "catastrophise" aspects of the report, especially the reduction in livestock numbers.

"I wouldn't worry about that – I wouldn't have that as a focus, bluntly."

Farmers already knew their obligations, Muller said.

"We all know that over time we've got to reduce our emissions, particularly with methane. We've got to do a lot of work over the next few years around measurement. Once we can measure it – we can manage it."

A "huge amount of pressure" was needed on the Government and exporters to get extra value out of the market, so Kiwi farmers could continue to produce low emissions products at a premium rate, Muller said.

"Make sure the government spends heaps on science. Open the GE doors so we've got more tools at our disposal."

While it was important to invest in scientific methods, (such as vaccines, breeding and feed), to help livestock create fewer emissions - it was not to be at the expense of consumer spending habits, Muller said.

"You've got to be very comfortable that doing all that is still going to produce a product that the consumer is going to pay top dollar for."

Scientists also needed a sense of urgency to come up with solutions.

"We can't still be umming and ahing about this in 10 years' time. We need tools tomorrow that the industry can scale."

Ultimately, Muller believed New Zealand farmers would succeed, despite environmental pressure s.

"We're the best at this and I back our farmers in 15 years to be telling a pretty awesome story globally."

Also in today's interview: Muller talked about genetically engineered grasses, forestry and farmer compensation. He also pondered the UK wanting to join the CPTPP.