Clear climate change pathway needed for dairy - Dr Tim Mackle

DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle has welcomed the announcement of the Government’s timeframes for putting in place an independent Climate Change Commission and consulting on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill from May 2018.

"The dairy sector has been operating within an environment that provides no clear pathway for New Zealand to transition to a sustainable economy. A nationwide discussion is needed about how New Zealand will meet our Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030," says Dr Mackle.

"DairyNZ has repeatedly called for the development by Government of an economy wide plan that outlines the emission reduction expectations of each sector, and we are pleased to see this is just what the Government has committed to doing.

"There’s a lot of work ahead of the dairy sector to understand exactly what our emissions reduction pathway will look like, but we welcome the challenge. The outcome will provide clarity, certainty, and transparency about our role in helping New Zealand to meet its climate change targets.

"We look forward to working with the Government, the agricultural sector, and the wider community as the framework for the Zero Carbon Bill is developed.

"DairyNZ has also supported the establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission since it was first proposed by the previous Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment last July.

"An independent commission will help New Zealand plan towards a low emissions future, and will provide certainty for the dairy sector about what is expected of us.

"Much of the work we are doing as part of our Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC) plan is focused on building awareness and ensuring dairy farmers have the tools and support required to address on farm methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

"Right now we’re focused on ensuring farmers understand what emission reduction and offsetting options are currently available."

DairyNZ is working with rural professionals to help get this message out. Over 400 rural professionals attended the DACC workshops this year, and both greenhouse gas courses for farm advisors at Massey University have been fully booked.

"As part of DACC, we are also developing ten partnership farms around New Zealand to look at different methods of greenhouse gas reduction," says Dr Mackle.

The DACC complements the robust evidence base under development by the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), which will underpin future policy development on agricultural emissions.

"The dairy sector is also investing in technological advancements, such as a methane vaccine, to inhibit methane emissions," says Dr Mackle. "The development of such innovations will help New Zealand become truly world leading on climate change, and we welcome the Government’s commitment to investing in these solutions."