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Is NZ Agriculture Emissions Neutral Already?

The numbers are in

With the Government seemingly intent on including agriculture in the ETS I felt it was appropriate to take a look at the justification behind the decision. As it turns out the case is very weak, to the point that (if/when) the NZ agricultural industry eventually gets their head around the science, climate change and emissions could be a significant strategic advantage for our industry. 

It comes back to a simple question, what is climate change? The UN says its caused by a change in the atmospheric concentration of a GHG. Given that Methane emission rates from NZ agriculture are now the same as Methane decay, 85% of our emissions do not meet the UN definition of contributing to climate change (contrary to most public government statements). I have taken the liberty of crunching some numbers and have found that just 106,000 ha of actively growing native bush, scrub or pine trees can offset the small amount of 'net' Methane and Nitrous Oxide emissions from NZ agriculture. Given there are over 12 million ha of farmland in NZ, I would expect our industry to be comfortably emissions (and warming) neutral as of 2018. 

We need our government to help NZ agriculture by promoting a more scientifically accurate approach to GHG accounting. Our competition in future will come from lab produced protein companies who are already using climate change to turn the public against natural products. If we don't start standing up for farmers and highlight the facts we will loose control of the narrative, perception is reality. Farmers need to start asking more questions from their industry leaders before its too late and the Government ETS locks in the false accounting and public mis-conceptions. 



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