Suddenly everyone hates farmingRichard Treadgold | September 19, 2011
Few people admire farming as we once did when we understood where this country’s wealth was created. On the contrary, farming has come under sustained attack, and from none more strongly than the National Party, once almost a fellowship of farmers and the industry’s staunchest supporter. Now our formerly admired farmers must tolerate the impending ETS tax on ruminant eructation, which farmers are helpless to reduce, yet for which they are further harassed by the modern epithet of “emitter”. As though those clean, natural gases could pollute the environment that has been creating them in vast quantities for millions of years. The “carbon tax” is a significant imposition, yet it’s hardly remarked upon except by those who strive to get it noticed and repealed — or others, apparently more numerous (certainly more vocal and popular with the media), who would gladly see it increased. The Coalition here rails against the unreasonable burden of an ETS which purports to “fight” in our name against so-called “anthropogenic global warming”. Do we still call it that? I guess this month’s stupid synonym is “climate disruption.” But since climate never goes for long without disruption the term defines tautology — how completely brainless to then declare it a crime and seek a culprit. (This press release first published on Scoop).
Press Release: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition
Friday, 16 September 2011, 5:08 pm
NZ farming remains at threat from ETS
“New Zealanders know that their prosperity relies heavily on the farm sector” says the Hon Barry Brill, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, “and yet the biggest threat to the future of farming is an attack by our own Government.
“The Government’s ETS Review Panel has recommended that all individual farmers have their biological emissions taxed as from 2015.
“No other country, anywhere in the world, has even considered imposing a climate tax on food production. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2040 is almost universally seen as a much higher priority than a purely symbolic reduction in some animal emissions.
“On the contrary, our major trading partners – including USA and Australia – have introduced schemes to reward farmers for taking CO2 from the atmosphere.
“Why is New Zealand the odd man out? This masochistic approach had its genesis in the 2004 ambition of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark to lead the world’s first carbon-neutral country. ‘World leadership’ became the catch-cry.
“In most countries, fossil fuels make up the bulk of emissions. Because New Zealand has extremely low usage of coal and gas, animal emissions were targeted instead. By the curious logic of climate policy our animals are to be punished because we are world leaders in renewable energy,” said Mr Brill.
“Comparably strained logic drives the decision of the Review Panel. The following specific contradictory findings speak for themselves:”
- By international standards, NZ meat and dairy products have a relatively low emissions intensity per unit of product.
- Over the last 20 years there have been reductions (yes, reductions) of around 1.3% pa in emissions per unit of product.
- Applying the ETS to agricultural emissions could lead to carbon leakage as production in other countries becomes more attractive.
- The impact on the average dairy farmer is estimated at $11,200 pa, and sheep and beef farmer at $6,700 (excluding indirect effects).
- Farmer levies have already funded $18 million of research into emission abatement options (taxpayers have spent another $67 million).
- Commercial methods of mitigating methane emissions are a long way off.
- Bringing agriculture into the ETS will encourage farmers to invest in the development of abatement technologies.
“So, the Panel recommends taxing an efficient industry already reducing its emissions, while acknowledging this could move food production from here to high-emission countries. The object is to make farmers invest in abatement research – which they are already doing,” Mr Brill concluded.