NEW South Wales’ peak agricultural advocacy body has come out in opposition to Australia signing up to a global ‘methane pledge’ saying it is already killing small towns across the ditch in New Zealand.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that Australia was likely to sign up to the US-led Global Methane Pledge, joining 120 other countries in aiming to cut methane emissions by 30pc by 2030. While the Federal Government says it will not result in the legislating of livestock emissions, the Nationals and livestock bodies have been at odds over the possible implications of the commitment.
Emissions legislation has been creating plenty of concern in New Zealand, with farming groups opposing the government’s proposed “burp tax”, which will see producers taxed for their emissions.
According to the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, “lies, damned lies and statistics” have driven a plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions that would see agricultural communities killed off in the name of climate change. It claimed it was the equivalent of destroying the entire New Zealand wine industry and half the seafood industry.
NSW Farmers CEO Pete Arkle said while the federal government had been quick to promise no tax on farmers if it signed up to the Methane Pledge, the experience of New Zealand’s farmers proved talk was cheap.
“Farmers produce the food we eat and fibre to make the clothes we wear, yet we are constantly being painted as the ‘bad guy’ on climate change,” Mr Arkle said.
“Our sector is highly exposed to any change in climate – you only need to look at the weather we’ve seen this year – and we are prepared to do our part, but at the moment there’s not much we can do on methane reduction but reduce the national herd.
“We need investment in research and development and better innovation to drive further emissions reductions.”
While there were promising trials and pieces of research being conducted to help reduce how much methane livestock produced, Mr Arkle said Australia was a long way from having a commercially-available ‘low methane’ option for stock feed. He pointed out the agricultural sector had already reduced emissions by more than 30 per cent, and was also removing carbon from the atmosphere by converting it into plants – something the heavy polluters were not doing.
“Rather than sign us up to a pledge that is all about international appearance, we need environment and farming working together to achieve these goals,” Mr Arkle said.
“If, however, we are simply expected to cut production then farmers will remain deeply opposed to this sort of policy that pits feeding the planet against saving the planet.
“People cannot eat or wear pledges – we need meaningful action on climate, not more hot air.”
Source: NSW Farmers