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Agricultural greenhouse gas research

Agricultural greenhouse gas research

The Government today released an independent report on the research that will be needed over the next decade into reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

"This report is an important contribution to the development of a research strategy for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions," said Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson. "It is comprehensive, balanced and pragmatic and we congratulate the authors on their work."

The agriculture sector emits methane and nitrous oxide gases and is responsible for over half of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Government climate change policy exempts agriculture from emissions charges on these greenhouse gases, but requires adequate research, funded predominantly by the sector, to develop practices and technologies to reduce these emissions.

Leading agricultural scientists Dr Peter O’Hara, Dr John Freney and Dr Marc Ulyatt were jointly funded by the Government and the Primary Industries Council to assess current research and consider what showed the best promise and how much additional effort might be needed.

"The report released today is based on a review of existing research, consultation with leading researchers and industry bodies and an international meeting of experts held in Christchurch in December last year," the ministers said. "While it highlights a number of promising areas for research, including measures that could reduce emissions and boost productivity at the same time, it is clear there are no 'silver bullets'. Making real progress will require a concerted and sustained research effort."

Although the Government originally thought this research effort might require an increased investment of up to $20 million a year, the report finds that about $8.4 million a year is likely to be enough. The Government sought voluntary funding from the industry but reserved the option of a levy. Industry leaders, including Federated Farmers and representatives of the dairy, meat, wool and deer sectors, have indicated that they would prefer a Government-imposed levy, rather than using funds collected under the Commodities Levies Act to fund the research.

"In the next few weeks the Government will consider how additional research funding will be provided, what governance structures will be needed and a process to finalise a research strategy," the ministers said. "Further discussions with the sector will be needed before final decisions on these issues."

The report: Abatement of Agricultural Non-Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Study of Research Requirements is available at http:// http://www.maf.govt.nz/mafnet/rural-nz/sustainable-resource-use/climate/abatement-of-agricultural-greenhouse-gas-emissions/greenhouse-gas-emissions.pdf

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