Real progress towards tackling climate change

Monday, December 7, 2015

As I write this, the world's attention has again turned to Paris. This time, it's with hope for real progress in tackling climate change. New Zealand has gone to the summit with a revised emissions target: reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.

Political opponents reckon we can do more. We already are. Our revised target represents a greater reduction in emissions and can be more readily benchmarked against what other nations are promising, and doing.

We also recognise that, as a farming nation with a significant volume of our emissions coming from agriculture, the only effective options available today are to lower our food production or to solve the problem of what's known as "ruminant gas production".

Stripped of their rhetoric, our opponents say we should cut the amount of food our farms produce.

We, on the other hand, prefer trying to solve the real problem because we believe it's a far better option for New Zealand. Cutting production would cause unemployment and lower incomes.

Because we'd rather fix the problem at source, the Government is investing $45 million in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. Already we've seen some promising early results in reducing gas production in sheep.

This approach offers the opportunity to reduce emissions without sacrificing production. This government prefers to face our problems and tackle them: that is the New Zealand way.

UPDATE: At the talks, the Prime Minister called for an end to subsidies on fossil fuels and announced a further $20 million investment