Govt has ‘no idea’ whether farming impacts global warming - consultant

Rural Exchange 24/11/2018

The Government’s focus on the agriculture industry in its crusade to mitigate global warming is unfair, argues a consultant.

Steve Cranston, agricultural and environmental consultant at Cranston Consulting, claims there is a lack of information indicating that the farming industry is contributing to global warming.

"They have no idea how many trees are on agricultural land, and they're actually not accounting for methane in a way that correlates with warming," Mr Cranston told RadioLIVE.

As part of the Paris Agreement, the New Zealand government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with the focus on forestry and agriculture and forestry.

The Government’s proposed Zero Carbon Bill has not yet confirmed how its zero carbon target will be set, and offered the public a chance to define what “zero carbon” actually means and how methane should be treated in targets.

Many agriculture leaders have argued that methane to be seen as a short-lived gas with a softer target reduction than carbon dioxide.

Mr Cranston rejects the notion that methane contributes to global warming.

"The government has no idea if agriculture is actually contributing to warming,” he said.

According to Mr Cranston, the GWP100 accounting process being used is the issue. GWP100 is the global standard at the moment, but Mr Cranston believes it penalises farmers.

"It treats methane in a way that gives the impression it's adding to warming, even when it's not," he said.

But a report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released in September maintained that livestock emissions will need to be cut by up to 22 percent by 2050 to stop any additional global warming.

“Methane can’t be counted out of the picture. It will go on contributing if we just hold emissions flat. By pulling those emissions down, we will get some improvement and progress,” the report’s author Simon Upton told Rural Exchange.

Mr Upton is expected to release another report on carbon sinks by the end of the year, which will further inform the extent that greenhouse gases are absorbed in soil.

Watch the full interview with Steve Cranston above.

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