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If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too

The release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report’s chapter on Australasia, reinforces science, research and water storage are fundamental to New Zealand’s adaptive response.

“The IPCC report contains both good and bad news for the New Zealand farm system and New Zealand as a whole,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President, who has recently returned from the World Farmers Organisation’s General-Assembly.

“The report predicts that New Zealand will likely become drier in the northeast of the South Island as well as the east and north of the North Island. On the other side of the ledger, it will likely become wetter in the south of the South Island.

“This will change pest pressure and biosecurity risks and the effectiveness of biocontrols.

“The report more positively suggests that winters will become warmer with earlier spring growth in some areas. It also predicts our farmers may benefit from increased world demand for food as the world struggles to feed its burgeoning population.

“This challenge – to feed 10 billion people by 2050 in the face of climate change - is the defining practical and moral issue of our time.

“The World’s farmers, meeting in Buenos Aires last week, agreed that while agricultural emissions will increase to head off potential global food shortages, increasing productivity at the farm level will greatly reduce agriculture’s climate impact.

“Put simply, we need to do more from less but a blind adherence to headline reduction targets for agriculture is not practical, is not doable and is not being a good global citizen.

“New Zealand farmers have been playing their part by increasing output while cutting carbon in every unit of agricultural product by about 1.3 percent each year. We need science and research to help us do more.

“The IPCC report underscores that to adapt, we need to develop crops and pastures requiring less water and fewer nutrients. It is a clear signal too that water storage infrastructure is needed to capture what could be heavier but less frequent rainfall.

“So given the need to adapt to these issues and the opportunities they may present, the decision to drop the Riddett Institute, Gravida and the Bio-protection Centre as Centres of Excellence and therefore, reducing their funding, is somewhat perplexing.

“Strategic importance is a key criterion for Centres of Excellence. What could be more strategic than increasing our productivity to meet higher food demand while adapting to our changing climate?

“We need to get our policy ducks in a line in order to meet the future and to make the most of it,” Dr Rolleston concluded.


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