The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent report on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions highlights the need for agriculture to make meaningful progress in reducing its emissions. In New Zealand this is particularly important because agriculture is responsible for 48% of our emissions.
The Commissioner’s report follows disturbing analysis from the Ministry for the Environment, where a senior official this week advised that meeting New Zealand’s Paris Climate Agreement pledge could cost the country more than $70 billion, and see carbon prices rise to $300 a tonne if we are not part of international carbon markets.
New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme is greatly weakened because it is not linked to international carbon markets, and because it covers only half of our emissions. Hopefully the current Government review of the ETS will address these issues, especially since the Paris Agreement comes into force on 4 November, and the next UN meeting on international climate change action is set down for Marrakech in two weeks’ time.
The Commissioner recommends planting trees to offset emissions. This is an easy and relatively cheap strategy to pursue, with multiple benefits for agriculture - including riparian and erosion protection, water quality improvement, stumpage, and issue of NZU carbon credits for qualifying blocks. Managed well, tree planting creates more income for farmers.
New Zealand needs to encourage farmers and other land owners to plant more trees, and grab every carbon credit we can. We need to pursue a vigorous national planting programme and aim to become the world’s first Carbon Negative Country. This way we will reduce the risk of being in serious carbon debt in future, and create an ETS that is an asset, not a liability for the nation.
GreenXperts Limited and Green Tick Certification Limited are working to maximise the benefits of carbon trading for New Zealanders, by launching this week a $10 million Certified Carbon Credit Fund. We have already had local interest, and inquiries from Europe and India. We look forward to being part of the next phase in positive climate change action – helping New Zealanders to grab every carbon credit they can.