The New Zealand Labour government has announced a delay in the implementation of its climate plan to price greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The scheme, which was originally set to start in the first quarter, will now begin at the end of 2025. This decision comes as the general election approaches.
Agriculture is a major contributor to New Zealand’s total emissions, with 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep in the country. Methane emissions from these animals make up nearly half of the country’s total emissions.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor highlighted the importance of developing a “workable, effective, fiscally responsible” system. He also mentioned that scientifically validated carbon sequestration methods, such as tree planting, will be recognized in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.
Farmers have previously protested the proposal, and red-meat lobby groups expressed their disappointment with the plan. Kate Acland, chair of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, stated that the sector is already making progress towards emission reduction targets, raising questions about the need for pricing.
The Labour government defends the plan, arguing that it is crucial for curbing climate change and could potentially give New Zealand meat a competitive advantage. However, some farmers are concerned that the pricing scheme may harm their profits and inadvertently lead to increased emissions by shifting farming to countries with less efficient practices.
Meanwhile, the opposition National party, the largest opposition force, is considering a similar tax that would be implemented from 2030 onwards.
The delay in the implementation of the climate plan reflects the government’s desire to ensure a well-designed and effective system. While there are differing opinions and concerns surrounding the pricing of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, it is clear that the government is determined to address climate change and reduce emissions in the sector. The upcoming general election will likely bring more attention to this issue, and the decisions made by voters could have a significant impact on the future of New Zealand’s agriculture industry and its contribution to climate change.