Cows and sheep sharing a bit of gas every once in a while is natural but agricultural emissions are becoming more and more of a problem in relation to climate change.
New Zealand is attempting to get ahead of the storm with a draft plan to put a price on agricultural emissions. Considering the country is home to around 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep, one of their biggest sources of greenhouse gases is these belching animals.
This proposal would set a precedent, making New Zealand the first country to have farmers pay for emissions that come from their livestock. The country is a large agricultural exporter, which means that other countries may follow suit if they see this proposal works.
Around half of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. The main culprit is methane. Before now, agricultural emissions were exempt from the country’s emissions trading scheme. As the government looks to further commit to stopping global warming, they’ve had to get creative.
The drafted plan suggests that farmers will need to start paying for their gas emissions starting in 2025. Short-and long-lived farm gas will be priced separately but a single measure to calculate their volume will be used.
“There is no question that we need to cut the amount of methane we are putting into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key part in how we achieve that,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.
There are ways that farmers can reduce emissions and the proposal plans to include incentives for those who do so. Revenue from the scheme will be invested in research, development and advisory services for farmers.
“Our recommendations enable sustainable food and fibre production for future generations while playing a fair part in meeting our country’s climate commitments,” said Michael Ahie, chair of the primary sector partnership, He Waka Eke Noa.
A final decision on the proposal will be expected in December 2022, which could be the biggest regulatory disruption to farming since the removal of agricultural subsidies in the 1980s.