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Farmers, Nats short-sighted on climate change

28 March 2006

Farmers, Nats short-sighted on climate change proposals

The reaction of Federated Farmers and the National Party to the Green Party's Turn Down the Heat paper on climate change is disappointing and shortsighted, according to Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"It is a shame that Federated Farmers and the National Party have once again chosen to take a short term view to protect the status quo in the face of such a critical threat as climate change," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"It's especially disappointing that some farmers have reacted in this way, because they rely heavily on predictable rainfall and temperatures for their economic security, so are likely to be among the first and worst groups affected by drastic climate change."

Ms Fitzsimons released the Turn Down the Heat document yesterday, on the eve of the Climate Change and Governance Conference currently underway in Wellington. It outlines a range of measures - affecting not just farming, but also forestry, transport, households and other sectors - that New Zealand could implement to fill the policy vacuum on climate change following the axing of the carbon tax.

"Federated Farmers and the National Party have their heads in the sand if they think that farmers can continue to take no responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions from their livestock operations, which make up 48 percent of New Zealand's total emissions," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"The Greens' suggestions are not anti-farming. We believe livestock emissions should be capped at their current rate, and that any increases above the current level should be required to be offset by farmers through investment in carbon-reducing activities like planting trees on unproductive land.

"This is actually win-win for farmers, because the kinds of activities we are talking about would help to prevent floods and erosion and preserve water quality for their farms. They would also help to protect our exporters against a backlash from markets concerned that we are ignoring our environmental responsibilities.

"On a happier note, I am delighted that Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson welcomed the Turn Down the Heat proposals when opening the conference and again in the House today, and I look forward to discussing them with him in person," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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