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Farmers should fear climate change, not Kyoto

Friday, 01 February 2002 Media Statement

Farmers should fear climate change, not Kyoto

The importance of a prosperous farming sector to the New Zealand economy is a key reason for the Government’s intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, says the Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, Pete Hodgson.

“New Zealand depends on an equable, stable climate for its prosperity more than any other developed nation,” Mr Hodgson said. “To a large extent we still buy our place in the developed world with grass and that is why it is so important for New Zealand to be part of the international effort to check global warming.”

Mr Hodgson was responding to Federated Farmers’ release today of the results of a survey of its members’ views of the Kyoto Protocol.

“Farmers have been frequently misled by speculation about a ‘flatulence tax’ on livestock and it is no surprise that many are uncertain about how the Kyoto Protocol would affect them. I have made clear my personal view that research is the key to reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, not taxation.

“I urge the farming community to think more about the benefits of funding a substantial research programme on reducing livestock methane emissions. Successful research in this area will pay a double dividend, both reducing emissions and increasing the food conversion efficiency of grazing animals.

“Farmers should also reflect on the likely costs of doing nothing about global warming. Floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion to aquifers are among the predicted consequences. So are increased biosecurity and animal health threats from warmer climate pests and diseases.

“In about a month the Government release a climate change preferred policy package for public consultation. Farmers will see that the Government has no interest in policies that would hamper their crucial contribution to the New Zealand economy. Our focus is on maximising the benefits and minimising the costs of action on global warming.’

ENDS

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