Meat & Livestock News

Review of Methane Targets in Agriculture Welcomed

TL;DR: New Zealand’s agricultural sector applauds the government’s review of methane reduction targets, aiming for scientifically accurate and economically viable goals to ensure fair treatment and sustainability for farmers.

Agricultural groups have praised the government’s decision to reassess biogenic methane reduction goals. An independent panel will examine these targets, ensuring they are scientifically grounded and economically feasible.

Kate Acland from Beef+Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) and Federated Farmers president Wayne Langford support this initiative. They argue that current targets exceed what’s necessary for preventing additional global warming.

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay announced this review. They aim for reduction targets that align with global warming prevention without undermining the agriculture sector’s sustainability.

By year-end, this panel will propose a revised methane reduction target for 2050, ensuring it adheres to no additional warming principles. This comes after criticism of the ambitious 24%-47% reduction by 2050, set by previous administrations, with a 10% cut by 2030.

BLNZ has long advocated for this review, pointing out that understanding of greenhouse gases’ impacts has advanced since the 2019 target establishment. Acland emphasises the importance of focusing on gases’ warming potential rather than their total emissions. She insists that methane should contribute to preventing warming, similar to other gases.

This review is seen as vital for the agricultural sector, ensuring its contributions to the economy are recognised and protected. Research by Oxford and Cranfield Universities supports the claim that current methane targets may be excessively stringent, potentially offsetting all warming from other NZ economy sectors by 2050.

Langford criticised the existing targets as politically motivated rather than based on solid science. He highlighted the disproportionate burden on farmers, rural communities, and the economy. While other sectors aim for net-zero by 2050, agriculture faces even stricter demands.

The focus now is on setting methane reduction targets that truly reflect what’s needed to halt additional warming, providing clarity and fairness for farmers and aligning with broader environmental objectives.