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Climate Change Not the Biggest Threat to NZ

23 July 2002 PR097 /02
Climate Change Not the Biggest Threat to NZ

The Minister of Agriculture Hon Jim Sutton needs to provide New Zealand farmers with evidence to support his claims that Climate Change is the biggest threat to New Zealand Agriculture, says Federated Farmer's President Tom Lambie.

"What about a major biosecurity breach, major market closure or sustained worldwide recession? These are all threats we currently face."

The Minister's suggestion that the cost to New Zealand of failing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will be great because of increased frequency in extreme weather events also contradicts the facts.

"New Zealand contributes 0.2% of the world's green house gas emissions, said Mr Lambie. "As the Minister for Climate Change Hon Pete Hodgson has said a reduction in New Zealand's green house gas emissions will not impact on climate change."

Furthermore countries that are significant and growing emitters remain outside the protocol's legally binding obligations.

"Given Australia and the United States have recently formalised a climate action partnership Mr Sutton's prediction that the US will ratify the Kyoto Protocol also seems unlikely."

There is also little evidence to support the Minister's claim that New Zealand stands to benefit financially from the Protocol.

"The Minister claims that research into the reduction of methane and nitrous oxide emissions from sheep and cattle is showing promising results.

"Federated Farmers hasn't seen any evidence to support that claim. Those who make the claim fail to recognise that ruminant animals such as sheep and cattle have evolved over a very long time into highly complex biological systems. Any moves to affect their digestive system will have complex and uncertain biological outcomes with equally uncertain costs."

New hydroelectric or wind power also will not come cheaply.

"Farmers do indeed deal with climate change on a daily basis, but we remain unconvinced that the measures contained in the Kyoto Protocol will offer the best possible least cost solution for New Zealand."


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