Commission releases “achievable” blueprint for addressing climate change

Agriculture is among the sectors considered vital to a low emissions future for New Zealand in the Climate Change Commission’s blueprint for addressing climate change.  The Commission highlights the importance of further research into reducing agriculture biogenic methane emissions as well as the Government’s work to build the world’s only farm-level emissions measurement, management and pricing system.

The Commission’s final advice sets out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 15 years.

It also provides three different pathways the Government could follow to keep within the proposed emission budgets.

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office highlights these points: Continue reading

Climate Change Commission delivers final advice to Government

The Climate Change Commission has delivered its advice on how New Zealand can reach its climate target to Minister of Climate Change James Shaw.

The Commission will publish the advice on its website next Wednesday (9 June) once it has been tabled in Parliament.

The Commission can’t comment, provide copies or release the advice until then.

Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr says the Commission has met its obligations under the Climate Change Response Act in delivering the advice. Continue reading

What a dry winter would mean for the ag/hort sector – and for the country

New Zealand may be heading into a dry winter following a month of near record-breaking dry patches across the country.

What are the flow-on effects if insufficient rain falls during the cold season?

The Science Media Centre asked experts to comment on how the potential dry season may affect …

  • Rural communities and agriculture
  • Hydro energy production
  • The environment

These experts have responded: Continue reading

Political parties are challenged by polarisation of voters on climate change policy

New Zealanders are polarised on climate change policy, according to a recent Stuff/Massey University survey of 55,000 readers. This puts the two major political parties in a difficult position as they seek options that are credible yet appealing to voters.

Just 30% of Labour voters and 22% of National voters think the country is “more or less on the right path” on climate action.

The majority of voters on one side of the political spectrum wants to see “urgent action and radical change”, while at the other end most recommend caution and scepticism.

Commenting on the survey findings, Professor Robert McLachlan says they help explain the deep distrust climate advocates have for the National Party, and their demands for bolder choices from Labour.

Robert McLachlan  is professor of applied mathematics at Massey University.

His article has been republished by Sciblogs from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. The original article is here. Continue reading

New risk assessment report identifies 43 climate change risks with big implications for NZ

The release of the National Climate Change Risk Assessment provided Environment Minister James Shaw with a platform to bat for the Government’s programme to tackle climate change.  He said the report shows that “the progress the  Government has made to solve the climate crisis is essential to creating cleaner and safer communities across New Zealand”.

Because of this report’s findings, he said,

” … we can see clearer than ever that the action our Government is taking to reduce emissions is essential for making sure we pass on a safer planet to our children and grandchildren.” 

The Risk Assessment outlines for the first time the significant environmental, social and economic risks New Zealand faces as a consequence of climate change.

The National Climate Change Risk Assessment identifies 43 risks that could have a major or extreme consequence to New Zealand. Continue reading

Fossil fuels and farming share the blame for rising methane

The Global Carbon Project (GCP) has released its latest analysis of the worldwide balance of methane emissions and sinks, showing emissions increased by 9% – or 50 million tons – from 2007 to 2017.

Human activities are responsible for about 60% of total methane emissions, most of the increase coming from the fossil fuel sector and the agriculture and waste sector.

The researchers say their report highlights the need for stronger mitigation in both areas.

The report updates a previous analysis published in 2016 as part of the GCP’s monitoring of global methane (CH4) sources and sinks to the atmosphere.

The latest study was conducted by an international research team and led by the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ) in France, under the umbrella of the GCP which initiated the work. Two articles have been published in Environmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data.

Methane is the second anthropogenic greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2). But methane has a warming potential 28 times higher than carbon dioxide (on a 100-year time horizon). Continue reading

Scholarship placements for agricultural emissions scientists have doubled

Scholarships have been announced for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries.  They are another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Hundreds of applications were received for this fourth round of the CLIFF-GRADS programme (Climate, Food and Farming Global Research Alliance Development Scholarships), Mr O’Connor said.  Nearly twice as many scholarships were awarded as in the previous round.

The Minister said:

“The growing interest from GRA member countries and host research institutions is impressive, and shows the high regard for this programme among the global climate science community.

“Supporting these international study programmes is one of many ways New Zealand is contributing to addressing agricultural emissions. Doing so will provide us with key knowledge to help farmers in New Zealand and in other countries to farm more sustainably.”  Continue reading

Vacancy: Independent chair and member for NZAGRC governance group

The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) is seeking expressions of interest for two new governance positions – an independent chair and member for the newly established NZAGRC Governance Group.

The NZAGRC, estsablished in 2009, is a collaboration involving the leading New Zealand research providers working in the agricultural greenhouse gas area (five Crown Research Institutes, two universities and DairyNZ) and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc).

It coordinates and invests in New Zealand research programmes aimed at reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural systems and maintaining or enhancing carbon in the soils that support those systems. Continue reading

Climate change costs through drought and floods may be greater than previously estimated, NZ scientists say

New Zealand is already paying heavily for climate change – about $800 million from droughts and $140 million from floods in the last decade – scientists say in an article published by the New Zealand Herald.

The authors argue that the costs of climate change are hitting us now and may have been previously underestimated.

Their article is the newspaper’s contribution to this week’s international media campaign Covering Climate Now.

It has been written by the director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University Professor Dave Frame, and his colleagues, Professor Ilan Noy (Victoria) and Dr Suzanne Rosier (NIWA).

They say New Zealand has experienced three significant droughts over the past 12 years and many damaging storms and extreme rainfall events.  Some of these have been linked to the influence of climate change. Continue reading

A quarter of natural carbon solutions involve putting it back in the ground

An American-led study has attempted to measure the role soil carbon could play in mitigating climate change.

Researchers say soil carbon sequestration – which involves taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in soils – accounts for 25% of the potential of natural land-based climate change solutions.

They say the technique is a ‘no-regrets opportunity’ for climate mitigation that could benefit agriculture by improving soil fertility and climate resilience.

The study mostly involved American scientists but also included scientists working in Scotland and China.

According to the Abstract (HERE):

Mitigating climate change requires clean energy and the removal of atmospheric carbon.

Building soil carbon is an appealing way to increase carbon sinks and reduce emissions owing to the associated benefits to agriculture. However, the practical implementation of soil carbon climate strategies lags behind the potential, partly because we lack clarity around the magnitude of opportunity and how to capitalize on it.

Here we quantify the role of soil carbon in natural (land-based) climate solutions and review some of the project design mechanisms available to tap into the potential. We show that soil carbon represents 25% of the potential of natural climate solutions (total potential, 23.8 Gt of CO2-equivalent per year), of which 40% is protection of existing soil carbon and 60% is rebuilding depleted stocks.

Soil carbon comprises 9% of the mitigation potential of forests, 72% for wetlands and 47% for agriculture and grasslands.

Soil carbon is important to land-based efforts to prevent carbon emissions, remove atmospheric carbon dioxide and deliver ecosystem services in addition to climate mitigation.

Source:  Scimex