Sustainability and climate action can be awkward bedfellows, says Nigel Greening, as he navigates the complicated business of reducing emissions.
These consultations presented a great opportunity to highlight to the Government the significant work we do and investment made, particularly through the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) programme, to continuously improve the sustainability of the wine industry. A brief overview of each consultation and next steps is set out below.
Climate change: In October 2021, the Government consulted on proposals for the first Emissions Reduction Plan. The Emissions Reduction Plan will set the direction for climate actions for the next 15 years by setting policies and strategies for specific sectors (including the wine industry) to enable New Zealand to meet its 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and biogenic methane targets. The final Emissions Reduction Plan is expected to be released by 31 May 2022. Our submission emphasised the need for the Government to support industry programmes, like SWNZ, that have already made considerable investment to drive change, adapt to climate change and reduce emissions. In addition, we highlighted the need for government policy and strategy to prioritise low emission activities (like viticulture) to better enable private sector action to reduce emissions.
Waste: At the same time as the Emissions Reduction Plan, the Government also consulted on proposals for a new national waste strategy and waste legislation to better regulate how New Zealand manages products and materials in the economy. This is in response to advice from the Climate Change Commission that to meet our emissions reduction targets, New Zealand needs to adopt a long-term strategy to reduce waste. The new strategy will set out the proposed vision and aspirations for a low-waste New Zealand and the pathway to achieve a more circular economy. The new waste legislation will put in place the tools to achieve the strategy. The waste strategy is expected to be released in mid- 2022. Detailed legislation is also expected to be developed and a bill introduced to Parliament later this year. We note that this consultation is separate to the consultation on the Container Return Scheme. Our submission highlighted the need for significant investment in waste infrastructure such as kerbside recycling and options for the disposal of organic waste.
Water: Feedback was sought on the implementation and transition of all farmers to the freshwater farm plan system. It is proposed that the new regulations take effect in the first half of 2022 and freshwater farm plans will be gradually rolled out across New Zealand. The regulations will set out the requirements for freshwater farm plans and the timeframes for when plans must be in place. Our submission focussed on demonstrating the initiatives NZW has taken to improve water quality and efficiency in the industry, and our view that the regulations should enable SWNZ to be used by our members to achieve compliance with the freshwater farm plan provisions. NZW is continuing to engage with the Ministry for the Environment on the design of the system to ensure a smooth transition for our members.
Anna Cameron is Senior Legal Counsel at NZW