The New Zealand government has agreed to take agriculture out of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) and will establish a new pastoral sector group to constructively tackle biogenic methane.

Its agriculture minister Todd McClay said New Zealand farmers are some of the world’s most carbon-efficient food producers and that it didn’t "make sense to send jobs and production overseas, while less carbon-efficient countries produce the food the world needs”.

The minister said that the government was “committed to meeting our climate change obligations without shutting down Kiwi farms” and was focused on “finding practical tools and technology for our farmers to reduce their emissions in a way that won’t reduce production or exports”.

Legislation amending the Climate Change Response Act 2002 (the CCRA) to ensure agriculture does not enter the New Zealand ETS will be introduced later this month. This will remove agriculture, animal processors and fertiliser companies from the ETS before January 1 2025. However, emissions associated with non-farm activities from these organisations will continue to be covered by the NZ ETS.

“It’s time for a fresh start on how we engage with farmers and processors to work on biogenic methane,” McClay said.

Investing in solutions

The New Zealand climate change minister Simon Watts said the government had committed $400m over the next four years to accelerate the commercialisation of tools and technology to reduce on-farm emissions, which he said signaled "the government's support for farmers while ensuring New Zealand meets its international climate change obligations”.

Associate minister of agriculture Andrew Hoggard said it was critical that domestic efforts to cut emissions did not harm the local agricultural sector.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and maintaining its profitability is pivotal to boosting our GDP, raising the standard of living, and providing the high-quality public services Kiwis deserve,” Hoggard said.