Auckland 25 September 2008 – Greenpeace welcomes National Party plans to research the reduction of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, but says there's plenty for farmers to be getting on with in the meantime.
"Research is important as we move forward, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse for the agriculture sector to sit on its hands," said Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer. "We know enough for farmers to be reducing their emissions now - where are National's policies to encourage this?
"One third of all agricultural emissions in New Zealand come from nitrous oxide, which is produced as a result of intensive farming practices and is a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2. These emissions now account for more than total road transport emissions.
"Fertiliser is the P of New Zealand farming. It's damaging the climate and eroding our "clean green" advantage over international competitors. Yet it's an area that can easily be addressed.
"Farmers should be using proven low-input systems that use no chemical nitrogen fertilizer; this not only has less of an environmental impact, but also helps improve returns to farmers.
"This was all outlined in a study by AgResearch (1) , which shows that milk produced and delivered per cow per year was highest under the low input system."
Boxer said leaving agriculture out of the emissions trading scheme until 2013 had removed an important incentive to tackle on-farm pollution. "Not only that, it means taxpayers must pick up the tab for the sector's skyrocketing emissions under Kyoto.
"Farmers must get on with reducing emissions today by switching to low input systems. Where is the National Party's policy to promote this?"
Greenpeace is calling for agriculture to be brought into the emissions trading scheme before 2013, and for New Zealand to set an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020.
(1) Eco-efficiency of intensification scenarios for milk production in New Zealand, Claudine Basset-Mens, Stewart Ledgard, Mark Boyes, AgResearch Limited, Ecological Economics, In Press 2007.