Talk has turned into action for the agricultural sector’s love/hate relationship with the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
While agriculture will enter fully into the scheme from 2015, compulsory reporting of emissions begins this year, hot on the heels of voluntary reporting beginning last year.
With some exemptions, participants for agriculture are meat processors, milk or colostrum processors, exporters of live animals, fertiliser importers and manufacturers and egg producers.
Agricultural participants now have to report emissions though to the end of 2014, but they are not required to pay for emissions in these years.
The term ‘agriculture emissions’ refers to the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production. These consist of methane from livestock (approximately two-thirds), and nitrous oxide from animal excrement and the use of nitrogen fertiliser (the remaining one-third).
The ETS will cover all the major agricultural sources of methane and nitrous oxide, such as methane from ruminant animals and nitrous oxide from urine, dung and nitrogen fertiliser applied to pasture.
Participants in the ETS for agriculture will have to report activities and surrender New Zealand Units (NZUs) to account for agricultural emissions. Like all New Zealanders, farmers and growers are likely to notice an increase in energy prices due to the ETS.
Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Dr William Rolleston, says the key challenge to enrolling biological emissions into the ETS is to address the economic and practical ramifications.
“Right now, the entire primary sector contributes some 70 percent of all the physical exports we sell in order to pay our way in the world.
“Farmers will be extremely pleased that Minister Smith has reaffirmed a pledge Government has given to Federated Farmers, that biological emissions will not be included in the ETS, if our trading partners do not follow suit.
“The Government is to be congratulated for this. It is also to be congratulated for recognising that farmers, despite the research investment, lack the practical means to reduce emissions.
“Any tools available are too variable or immature to meet the needs of farmers. Long term solutions, such as vaccines and genetics, are several decades away from commercial deployment.
“This is not thumbing our nose at an international commitment. It is a realistic and pragmatic assessment of the real world, where food security is emerging as a pressing global concern.”