Better ways for countries to collaborate on carbon credits

New Zealanders are among international researchers who have presented a new model for small groups of countries to work together to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike previous ways of buying carbon credits, the researchers say Climate Action Teams will only reward emissions reductions beyond already ambitious national commitments.

In their policy brief, the researchers look at a hypothetical team among New Zealand, Switzerland, and Chile, finding that Chile could provide enough emissions mitigation to support NZ and Switzerland to meet their emissions reduction commitments at a lower cost than NZ and Switzerland’s domestic action alone.

A media release from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust says: Continue reading

He Waka Eke Noa releases discussion document on farm emissions levies

Two options for how farmers could pay for their on-farm emissions have been released for discussion.

This is a consequence of the government’s announcement in 2019 that the sector would have to start paying for emissions from 2025.

As RNZ recalled in a report today, the industry was given time to develop a way to measure and price them.

The government said if no credible alternative was put forward agriculture would be put into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

RNZ says:

He Waka Eke Noa – The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership which includes Beef and Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers and DairyNZ – today released a discussion document with two options. Continue reading

Kicking the can on methane

There is a real risk that focusing on methane will mean we take our foot off the accelerator of CO2 reductions – where we’ve traditionally had a pretty poor record, Professor Dave Frame and Dr Adrian Macey contend in article published by Newsroom and republished on the Victoria University of Wellington website.

Dave Frame is Professor of Climate Change and Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at the university.

Dr Adrian Macey is an adjunct professor of the Institute and a fellow at the Institut d’études avancées de Nantes, France.

They write:

As 20,000 people get ready to converge on Glasgow for the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), there has been a flurry of reports and media coverage suggesting urgent action to reduce methane emissions is the best thing we can do for the climate right now.

A recent joint United States-European Union pledge on methane, which other countries are being encouraged to join, aims at a 30 percent reduction in methane by 2030. The argument is that because methane is very potent in the short term, reducing it now will give us a big hit on warming, or that it somehow buys time for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2). Continue reading

Government acknowledges carbon farming is not the silver bullet to address climate change

The acknowledgement by the Government that current policies will likely see too much carbon forestry planted, along with the opening up of a conversation for potential limits through the Emissions Trading Sceme, is being welcomed by Beef+Lamb NZ on behalf of sheep and beef farmers.

As AgScience reported yesterday, the Government has released a discussion paper, Transitioning to a low emissions and climate resilient future, which aims to help shape New Zealand’s emissions reduction plan.

B+LNZ says the paper notably contains a slight shift in how the Government is talking about the role of carbon-only exotic forestry in addressing climate change.

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that fossil fuel emissions must be reduced, rather than continually offset, to ensure a fair, equitable, and efficient transition to a low emissions economy,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“The discussion document indicates any decision on changing the ETS rules would come by the end of 2022. We’re concerned that’s not fast enough given the scale and pace of land conversion happening.

“What we need is urgent action to adjust the ETS to limit the amount of carbon forestry offsets available to fossil fuel emitters. New Zealand is the only country with a regulatory ETS that currently allows 100 percent carbon forestry offsetting. We will be putting forward potential policy solutions as part of this process.” Continue reading

Consultation document opens opportunity to shape NZ’s first Emissions Reduction Plan

The Government today invited New Zealanders to inform the country’s first Emissions Reduction Plan with the release of a consultation document containing a range of policy ideas to decrease the country’s emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Plan will set the direction for climate action through to 2035 prescribing action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a range of areas, including energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:

 “Over the last four years we have laid the foundations for a prosperous, low-emissions economy with the passing of the Zero Carbon Act and the work of the Climate Commission. Today’s discussion document gives New Zealanders the chance to say what policies they want in order to reach our climate targets.

“Tackling climate change is a job for everyone. Be it school children or business leaders, I hear from a range of New Zealanders about the opportunities a low carbon future offers our country, so I encourage everyone to have their say,” Jacinda Ardern said.

 The Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw, said the discussion document released today is not a draft of the Emissions Reduction Plan. Rather it is an opportunity to hear feedback on what should be included in the plan. Continue reading

Emissions tools are designed especially for arable farmers

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) has released a greenhouse gas emissions calculator and a greenhouse gas emissions planning module for arable farmers.

With the simultaneous release of these two bespoke, tools arable farmers quite literally have everything they need to meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting and planning commitments at their fingertips.

Obligations around agricultural greenhouse gas emissions understanding and management are being phased in via the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) industry-government partnership.  Arable as well as livestock farms are expected to comply.

The first step for all farm businesses is to know their annual total on-farm biological greenhouse gas emissions (their ‘number’) and to have a written plan to manage emissions. A quarter of New Zealand farm businesses must know their number and have a plan by the end of this year. That expectation expands to all farmers knowing their number by the end of 2022 and all having a written plan by the end of 2024.

It’s a big challenge and ha’s why FAR developed the two newly released tools, says FAR’s Turi McFarlane. Continue reading

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” – FARM head’s call for science to underpin regulation

Overseer and farm greenhouse gas emissions are back in the news today.  The need for the regulation of farmers to be underpinned by good science comes into the picture, too.

Robin Grieve, chairman of FARM (Facts about ruminant methane) issued a press release calling on politicians to wait for science to catch up with their rules, regulations and diktats.  Regulators must not make the same mistake with farm greenhouse gas emissions as they did with Overseer, he said.

Councils and Government attempting to regulate farm activities without having the tools to measure what it is they are regulating, is a classic example of politicians running ahead of the science.

Our environment deserves better than having our politicians blundering their way along a regulatory path when they don’t really know what they are talking about or dealing with. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a farm adage that our politicians would be well advised to learn from.

Overseer was never the tool for the job and the zest with which our politicians adopted it as a tool to regulate, despite knowing its deficiencies, should be concerning to any fair minded person who cares for the environment.

Farm greenhouse gases were subject to the same disregard by our politicians when some decades ago they adopted the CO2 equivalent system to quantify methane emissions, despite being told by the climate scientists at the time that it was not fit for purpose.

The CO2 equivalents system does not take in to account the cyclical nature of ruminant methane emissions which leads to it massively overstating the impact of methane emissions and renders it meaningless. To use this system at all is to deny science.

If improving water quality and stopping global warming are important to our politicians, Grieve concluded, they will call time on overzealous regulations that lack scientific credibility, and instead seek enduring solutions that are science based.

Source:  Scoop

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed

A post on the Point of Order blog today reports on concerns about the contribution of methane to climate change and to the research in New Zealand and Australia to find ways of reducing methane emissions in farm animals…

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly.

 “Reduce  methane  emissions and  you  soon  reduce  methane  levels;  reduce   methane  levels  and  you  reduce global  warming”,  says The Economist.

With  NZ’s   greenhouse  gas  emissions  comprising  about 49%  methane, this  country  could  be  savaged  by  climate  change  warriors,  while other  countries  could  follow the  European Union  in  contemplating  a  tariff regime,  or  what  it  calls  a  carbon border  adjustment  mechanism  (CBAM),  in  which the  price  of  imports  reflect their carbon  content.    Such  a    mechanism, if  adopted   broadly, could severely penalise NZ  agriculture  exports. Continue reading

Applications called for Greenhouse Gas Inventory Research Fund grants

The funding round for the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) 2021 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Research Fund is now open, with $1.1 million available for new projects in the 2021/22 financial year.

Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes, says the fund provides funding for new research projects that aim to improve the Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which compiles and calculates greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in New Zealand.

“The inventory is an important tool in enabling New Zealand’s reporting to the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Inventory and the United Nations under the Paris Climate Agreement,” says Mr Penno.

“It also informs policy decisions, improves the accuracy of our inventory, and helps our agriculture and forestry sectors to manage their greenhouse gas emissions.

“It also supports the development of land-use projections, including afforestation and deforestation.

“With emissions from the agricultural sector making up around half of New Zealand’s gross emissions it’s essential that we continue to effectively measure our emissions, so we can seek ways to tackle them.”

Priorities for the 2021 funding round are:

  • methane
  • modelling and data
  • sequestration, land use and land-use emissions
  • reviews and updates to existing Inventory items
  • projections and targets
  • policy-driven research
  • nitrous oxide (N2O).

Applications close on 19 July 2021. More information is available on MPI’s website.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Efficient biofilters can slow climate change

University of Canterbury research into making biofilters more efficient could be key to New Zealand meeting its climate change targets and improving cattle farming long-term.

University of Canterbury (UC) chemical and process engineer Professor Peter Gostomski is leading a team aiming to dramatically improve the efficiency of biofilters in removing methane from dairy shelters.

Professor Gostomski, a biofilters expert, recently began to focus on methane. With 37% of New Zealand’s carbon footprint from methane produced by cattle, in order to reduce methane emissions by 10% by year 2030 (as part of the Zero Carbon Bill and Paris Accord), biofilters could help meet this goal. Continue reading