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Carbon neutrality not sustainable for sheep, beef

Media Release

23 June 2008

Carbon neutrality is not a sustainable long-term goal for New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry

The sheep and beef sector still has concerns that the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme goes beyond meeting New Zealand’s international obligations – despite the recent amendments by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen said.

Meat & Wool New Zealand has been actively engaging with the Government over the last 12 months to try and ensure sheep and beef farmers are not disadvantaged by New Zealand’s endeavours to meet its international obligations.

“We are disappointed that the select committee has not understood the impact of this legislation on the sector, after we impressed on it the effect of going beyond New Zealand’s emission targets under the Kyoto protocol.

“The sheep and beef industry in New Zealand is already Kyoto compliant having reduced emissions to below 1990 levels.”

Mr Petersen said New Zealand sheep and beef farmers recognise that environmental sustainability is critical, but there is a balance that must be found so that the sector remains economically viable.

“The economic flow-on effects of this legislation throughout rural New Zealand and the wider economy cannot be under-estimated. This will come at a time that should hold enormous opportunity for New Zealand as the world looks for secure food supplies.”

The red meat industry, represented by Meat & Wool New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association and Deer Industry New Zealand, made a joint submission to the select committee on 12 May supporting a market-based approach to deal with carbon emissions.

“We said the allocation of carbon credits (NZU’s) should be based on a number of key decision criteria such as international competitiveness, carbon leakage (where other countries produce what we don’t anymore), and viable mitigation technologies.

“We also say the allocation of carbon credits to New Zealand agriculture should never decrease below New Zealand’s international obligation. The allocation of carbon credits below this to a sector that exports 90-95 per cent of its production and underpins the New Zealand economy will undermine its international competitiveness.

“Regulating to force New Zealand’s productive sector to be carbon neutral would cause a transfer of wealth from the New Zealand agricultural industry to the Government and cause the agricultural industry to pay a disproportionate percentage of New Zealand’s tax.”

Mr Petersen said the Green Party’s suggestion that the New Zealand taxpayer was subsidising the meat and wool sector was completely wrong.

“If anything agriculture will be subsidising the taxpayer. Under the current proposal, with an adjustment period to 2030, agriculture will end up paying for carbon emissions above and beyond the Government’s liability under Kyoto,” Mr Petersen said.


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