New Zealand is a country built on farming. Yes we are blessed with a benign climate, but the real reason we are the best food producer in the world is our people, and a tradition of innovation and adaptation.
It is the global demand for this food that’s helped us become the forward-thinking and well-developed society we are today. We produce enough food to feed more than 40 million people worldwide and these exports have allowed us as a country to afford high levels of healthcare, education and infrastructure. The simple fact is that the fusion of our farmers, our land and our drive for innovation is our international advantage, and we need to make the most of that to continue to succeed as a country.
Unfortunately, there has been a growing sense of concern within rural communities that this Government is completely blind to this reality and farmers feel their contribution is not valued.
Although we do not agree with everything in the Zero Carbon Act, National supported the Bill because we believe there should be an enduring independent Climate Change Commission to help provide certainty and stability for everyone to plan and respond. Business, households and consumers need to be confident that the advice and reports on any climate change policies are robust and transparent.
We put forward several changes to make the Act more science-based and take into account economic impacts. Unfortunately, every change National put forward in Parliament was blocked by New Zealand First.
Our proposed changes were:
That the target for biological methane reduction be recommended by the independent Climate Change Commission. National believes the target in the Act of 24-47 per cent is too high and does not align with the independent science.
That the Act makes clear the stated aim of the Paris Agreement is for greenhouse gas reduction to occur in a manner that does not threaten food production.
To strengthen provisions that consider the level of action being taken by other countries and allow targets to be adjusted to ensure we remain in step with the international community.
To strengthen provisions for the commission to consider economic impacts when providing advice on targets and emissions reductions.
That the Act ensures the commission considers the appropriate use of forestry offsets, and has regard for the carbon sink represented by crops, riparian planting, and other farm biomass.
That emissions budgets be split between biogenic methane and carbon dioxide as recommended by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
That the Act includes a greater commitment to investment in innovation and research and development to find new solutions for reducing emissions.
Should we earn the right to govern in 2020 we’ll make these amendments in our first 100 days in office and ensure the Bill drives the appropriate long-term change while factoring in the wider impacts on the economy, jobs and incomes.
We support sensible and practical solutions to address climate change that do not damage our economy or drive up the cost of living and allow industries the freedom to grow and prosper.