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IPCC Mitigation Report redefines agriculture as ‘green tech’

IPCC Mitigation Report redefines agriculture as ‘green tech’

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Mitigation Report places New Zealand in a very good position so long as the policy nexus supports the carbon efficient production of food.

“The IPCC’s Mitigation Report projects that emissions from Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use could, by 2050, be half of what they were in 2010,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“In the IPCC’s Mitigation Report summary for policymakers, agriculture is seen as being positive because it “plays a central role for food security and sustainable development”.

“We think the IPCC has come a very long way from 2007. There is an increasing alignment between climate change and food insecurity, arguably, the two biggest challenges our species will face this century.

“We need to redefine what New Zealand’s global contribution to climate change is since we are a leader in the carbon efficient production of food. The carbon in each unit of agriculture product produced in New Zealand has been falling by about 1.3 percent every year.

“While Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use emissions currently account for a quarter of global emissions, the major driver isn’t livestock, but deforestation and land clearance.

“This is not to say global livestock emissions are not a factor but they are not the bogeyman they were once seen as being. Policy, which penalises the world’s most carbon efficient farmers, will only drive up global emissions and is now being recognised for the wrong footed thinking it is.

“This is further underlined by the positive response our country’s leading role in the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases has had.

“New Zealand farmers too, are playing their part through their financial support of the Palmerston North based Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, which targets productivity gains to further reduce the carbon footprint of our products.

“Within agriculture, the IPCC says, the “most costeffective mitigation options are cropland management, grazing land management and restoration of organic soils”. We have a lot to teach the world here.

“At the farm scale here, the recycling of nutrients as liquid fertiliser, the increasing use of precision agriculture and precision irrigation right through to the recent release of EPA approved Dung Beetles, all point to a focus on building the organic quality of our soils.

“We may also have a thing or two to learn from the organic sector so long as it is based on sound science.

“In terms of farm energy use, Westpac and Meridian Energy’s Solar Shed Initiative is about distributive solar power generation from farms. Farmers are incredibly keen on ways to improve energy efficiency since it is a large cost input.

“Yet Federated Farmers has concerns around research priorities. For example, the dropping of the Riddett Institute, Gravida and the Bio-protection Centre as Centres of Excellence.

“Given the recent commercialisation of Auckland University research on biodiesel from tallow, the IPCC identifies that bioenergy can play “a critical role for mitigation, but there are issues to consider, such as the sustainability of practices and the efficiency of bioenergy systems”.

“If we can get research aligned with the deployment of mitigation and adaptation strategies such as water storage, New Zealand could be in a very good space. While we can only play a small part in feeding the world, we can in fact show the world how to feed itself,” Dr Rolleston concluded.


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