Friday, 05 April 2019 10:24

The science is settled — Editorial

Written by 
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton.

The latest report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton makes interesting reading for the agricultural sector and its constant critics.

Upton’s report marks a departure from widespread calls to drag agriculture into an expanded ‘all gases, all sectors’ version of the current Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). 

Instead, he has proposed separate trading systems for fossil and biological emissions to help tackle climate change. This so-called ‘landscape approach’ would deal with agricultural greenhouse gases and forest sinks together – and separately from CO2.

The agricultural sector has been calling for just such a change in policy makers’ views on methane and other carbon emissions. This has been backed, in the past 18 months or so, by numerous scientists supporting the setting of a separate methane target in the Zero Carbon Bill, to reduce and stabilise methane, while carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide reduce to net zero. 

This is aligned with work by the Productivity Commission, research by Dr Andy Reisinger of the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and most recently by Professor Myles Allan, of Oxford University, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

Farming organisations are calling on the Government to take note of these new findings – which align with the latest and emerging science.

“This work adds to the growing evidence base developed over the past few years about how methane — a biological emission from animals — differs from carbon dioxide in its impact on global warming,” adds DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. 

Critics claim this alternative approach would be ‘letting farmers off the hook’. Although these same critics have always argued about the ‘science of climate change’, they seem to conveniently forget this when the science does not back their narrative.

As BLNZ says, the PCE report shows a clear way forward for NZ on climate change and recommends a science-based approach, which fits with the principle of each sector being responsible for its own emissions -- and for tackling them. 

Ministers, policy makers and farming critics must take note: it is difficult to argue against the science.

 

More like this

Unqualified ideas on climate change

There is a mish-mash of information available on climate change, some of which originates from people who are not qualified to speak on the subject, says Ministry of Primary Industries’ chief science advisor, John Roche.

Is reducing cow numbers the answer?

The argument over whether New Zealand has too many cows is a regional issue, not a national issue, according to Ministry of Primary Industries’ chief science advisor, John Roche.

Dairy conversion hits legal wall

A new decision by the Environment Court on the Simons Pass station in the Mackenzie Basin may effectively prevent more progress by the controversial big dairy conversion.

 
 

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Fail!

PM Jacinda Ardern may have many talents, but an understanding of business is clearly not one of them.

The good life?

Your canine crusader admires those people in high positions who do not take their own self-importance too seriously and are…

 
 

» Connect with Rural News