Oct 11, 2022 - Energy & Environment

New Zealand plans to cut emissions with world-first farm levy

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on a farm visit after announcing the government's proposals to tackle climate change by reducing agricultural emissions on October 11, 2022 in Wellington.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on a farm visit in the Wellington region on Tuesday after announcing her government's proposals to tackle climate change. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans Tuesday to tackle climate change, including a requirement that farmers pay levies from 2025 for emissions from such sources as cow burps.

Why it matters: "The proposal, as it stands, means New Zealand's farmers are set to be the first in the world to reduce agricultural emissions," said Ardern at a news conference at a dairy farm on New Zealand's North Island Tuesday.

  • Ardern said farmers who adopt climate-friendly practices would benefit from incentive payments, though some agricultural groups were critical of the proposal that's open for consultation until Nov. 18.

The big picture: New Zealand has pledged to cut methane emissions 10% by 2030 as part of a net-zero emissions target for 2050.

  • There are some 26 million sheep and about 10 million cattle in New Zealand and about half of the country's greenhouse gas emissions come from farms.
  • "No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers are set to benefit from being first movers," Ardern said. "Cutting emissions will help New Zealand farmers to not only be the best in the world but the best for the world."

What they're saying: Some farming groups expressed concern at the proposal. Andrew Hoggard, president of NZ's agricultural lobby and advocacy group Federation Farmers, said in a statement the plan would "rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be."

  • Andrew Morrison, chair of industry group Beef+Lamb New Zealand, said in a statement "if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms."
  • Morrison noted "New Zealand sheep and beef farmers have more than 1.4 million hectares [3.5 million acres] of native forest on their land, which is absorbing carbon and it's only fair" this is appropriately recognized in any framework from day one.

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