Submission on the Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future discussion document

New Zealand farmers are justifiably proud of being the most climate efficient food and fibre producers in the world. New Zealand farmers are committed to building on this leadership position and are committed to achieving a warming neutral New Zealand agricultural sector by 2050. Moving away from the current targets and legislating for an appropriate 10% 2050 biogenic methane reduction target will ensure that biogenic methane is required to reduce to a fair target that aligns with the warming demands set for long-lived emissions and is also zero carbon equivalent. 

While not supporting the current biogenic methane reduction targets, we do strongly support the split gas approach taken in the Climate Change Response Act (CCRA). The split gas approach taken to domestic emissions reduction targets should be complimented with split gas emissions budgets and a split gas Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Proudly promoting taking a split gas approach to all climate policy would demonstrate genuine international leadership and would be consistent with the most up to date science (recently outlined in the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The Government should add a sixth principle to guide an emissions reduction plan: Principle 6: Aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The actions New Zealand takes to meet emissions budgets and targets should recognise that tackling climate change goes hand-in-hand with achieving improvements across other sustainability objectives, as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

We are pleased the document outlines continued Government support for He Waka Eke Noa The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership. Through He Waka Eke Noa, partner organisations are working to develop a framework by 2025 that will equip farmers and growers with both skills and tools to reduce their on-farm agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The He Waka Eke Noa partnership aims to enable sustainable food and fibre production for future generations.

We request that the Government put in place an appropriate regulatory framework to enable New Zealand farmers to safely use emissions mitigation tools, such as feed inhibitors and genetically modified ryegrass. To enable New Zealand farmers to continue to be the most emissions efficient farmers in the world, the Government must begin to enable and not hinder, innovation in the use of mitigation tools. 

It is important that unique challenges being faced by rural New Zealanders are acknowledged and considered when developing policy. The rural proofing guidance, developed by MPI, should not sit dormant. It must instead be prioritised to ensure that central government policy is not only fit-for-purpose for those in urban centres, but for all New Zealanders. Valuing, prioritising, and applying the rural proofing guidance across all climate policy will go a long way towards ensuring that such policy does not unnecessarily and disproportionately impact rural New Zealanders. 

Improving rural connectivity better enables farms to access information and tools necessary to support on-farm emissions reduction. Further, improved connectivity would deliver numerous co-benefits for rural New Zealanders, such as helping overcome geographical isolation in remote rural areas, assisting in the hiring and retention of farm staff by making farms more attractive places to live, improving rural security outcomes, and reducing the harm resulting from on-farm accidents by enabling better communication with emergency services. 

We support increasing the integration of trees on farms under the principle of planting the ‘right tree in the right place for the right purpose’. Unfortunately, current policy settings are artificially incentivising the runaway blanket afforestation of productive sheep and beef farms with monocultural pine trees. This afforestation is already having a negative impact on many rural communities, with the recent spike in forestry resulting in less local economic activity and fewer sustainable employment opportunities. 

A strong focus is needed on reducing transport emissions, but not at the expense of the wellbeing of rural people who currently do not have alternatives. This is likely to remain the case for years to come as technology developers focus on designing for urban, rather than rural, situations. 

Federated Farmers supports the implementation of a more ambitious and practical goal of achieving a 60% renewable energy target by 2035, as recommended by the Climate Change Commission. Planning restrictions that are currently impeding the development of more renewable energy sources (such as hydro, solar, wind and geothermal) need to be relaxed, while recognising the property rights of landowners hosting infrastructure that connects electricity generation to consumers. As previously stated, any policies put in place to contribute to achieving a 60% renewable energy goal need to be examined through the rural proofing framework to ensure that the unique challenges faced by rural New Zealanders are being adequately considered. 
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