Delaying the introduction of new water reforms was not an option according to the two cabinet Ministers directly involved – Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
They say they need clarity and it is time for the Government to make decisions.
The president of the Farm Forestry Association, Neil Cullen, says if the Government decides to limit offsets to agriculture, this would have a dramatic negative impact on the value of carbon units, reduce planting rates and perpetuate “the seesaw policy that forestry has been experiencing for too long”.
The Forest Owners Association president, Peter Weir, says Upton’s report is contradicting the Productivity Commission’s paper earlier this year which pointed to planting trees serving as carbon sinks as the main means of getting New Zealand to carbon neutrality by 2050.
“The PCE takes a different tack from the Productivity Commission. The PCE makes the argument that long-lived gases from the burning of fossil fuels should be treated differently from short lived greenhouse gases from biological sources,” he says.
Weir concedes that Simon Upton is correct in that forestry can’t offer climate change solutions indefinitely.
“The industry has never suggested that we are a solution for all time. But in the immediate term we just can’t wait for the development of a political will for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, or the evolution of technical solutions to reduce livestock emissions.
“We don’t have time for either of those.
“Fast growing exotic plantation trees are a quick fix for getting our net emissions down in the critical next couple of decades.”
Cullen points to the Interim Climate Change Panel coming up with yet another set of formulas for addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s time for government decisions.”