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Minister Unable To Back Claims Farmers Are Harming The Climate

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has been found wanting, after his response to a letter from Groundswell NZ lacked any evidence that New Zealand agriculture is contributing to climate warming, Groundswell NZ emissions spokesperson Steve Cranston says.

“In June, Groundswell NZ sent a letter to the Climate Change Minister asking for any evidence he has that New Zealand farmers are currently contributing to additional warming of the climate. We recently received his response, which provided no evidence of this additional warming. The Minister continued to cite only historic warming as the justification for his costly and damaging tax on livestock emissions.”

“It should alarm all New Zealanders that this Government is willing to punish our largest export earner with a $500 million per year emissions tax, without being able to produce any evidence that those emissions are warming the climate.”

“Groundswell NZ stands firmly behind the science. Between stabilised methane emissions and carbon sequestration, New Zealand agriculture is potentially already climate neutral.”

“That our per capita emissions appear to be high is a direct result of outdated methane accounting. Thirty-five per cent of our country’s total emissions produce no additional warming of the climate, but our Government continues to push the high emissions per capita narrative to justify their climate policy decisions.”

“To make matters worse for farmers, the Climate Change Commission and Ministry for the Environment have been thwarting any attempt by the rural sector to officially measure our industry’s warming effect. The Government is effectively blaming farmers for climate change but refusing to measure it so we can’t prove otherwise.”

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“It is now universally accepted that methane emissions must only reduce by 3% by 2030 to ensure no warming of the atmosphere, the Minister has yet to publicly acknowledge this inconvenient truth,” says Mr Cranston.

There has been little media attention given to the problems associated with outdated methane accounting. This is a significant issue for farmers, as it covers 80% of our total emissions. There can be no sustainable, long-term agricultural emissions policy until this issue is resolved. Farmers are no longer willing to be unfairly vilified. Groundswell NZ seeks to encourage a transparent debate on methane so a satisfactory result for all sides can be reached. 

The letter to Climate Change Minister James Shaw can be found at:


Mr Shaw’s response is available at:


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