New Zealand: Climate Change Commission approach vindicates sheep and beef sector’s demands

NEW Zealand’s Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on the second emissions budget vindicates Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and other farmer group calls for urgent limits on the ability of fossil fuel emitters to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees on productive farmland.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ said “The Climate Change Commission rightly points out that the current policy settings are incentivising over-planting of trees on farmland, and that if this is not fixed, it will undermine New Zealand meeting its emissions reduction targets effectively and also have significant negative consequences for rural communities.”

B+LNZ says that it believes there is a place for forestry in meeting New Zealand’s climate change commitments. The integration of trees within farms could be a win-win and go some way towards meeting New Zealand’s climate change objectives, whilst maintaining a vibrant and profitable red meat sector.

“But,” says Mr McIvor, “the wholesale conversion of productive sheep and beef farms into carbon farms is a significant problem with fossil fuel emitters simply offsetting and not doing enough to use the currently available tools to reduce their emissions in the first place.”

New Zealand is an outlier internationally when it comes to allowing forestry offsetting in its emissions trading scheme and B+LNZ will shortly be releasing a report that highlights this disparity and reinforces the need for urgent change.

Mr McIvor says “The red meat sector is one of the few parts of the economy that has been doing the heavy lifting in reducing emissions. The sector has cut its gross emissions by 30 percent since 1990 and has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. We’ve invested millions in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions like low methane sheep. The native vegetation on our farms is also absorbing and retaining significant amounts of carbon.”

The NZ Climate Change Commission has outlined a range of options for addressing issues relating to offsetting, including introducing gross targets for CO2.

Mr McIvor says “Ultimately, the emissions trading scheme needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency. Government modelling has identified agriculture as achieving or even exceeding its sub-sector targets in the 2030s, whilst most other sectors, including transport, risk failing to even achieve a fraction of what they need to do.

“It is good that the Climate Change Commission has also reiterated its support for a farm level system for managing agricultural emissions. However, there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done to set up a credible measurement and reporting system. We strongly recommend focussing on getting this set up and working properly, but not introducing a price until sequestration and mitigation issues have been worked through. This is too important to rush.”

The Climate Change Commission is expected to recommend a review of the methane targets later this year.

Mr McIvor said “B+LNZ will engage in this closely to ensure that the methane targets are based on the latest science. New Zealand’s current methane targets disproportionately ask more of methane than CO2 from a climate perspective.”


Support a practical, investable and inclusive narrative for land use.

Sign-up to receive our newsletter

Newsletter Signup
Contribute for just £2.50 per week
Skip to content