Burping and farting at the dinner table can get you into trouble, but in the case of New Zealand cows and sheep, it can cost owners a hefty tax bill.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday that her government would go ahead with a proposal to make farmers pay for emissions from their livestock to combat climate change.
“This is an important step in New Zealand’s transition to a low-carbon future and fulfills our promise to put a price on emissions from agriculture from 2025,” Ardern said.
New Zealand is a major exporter of livestock and meat, with about 10 million cattle and her 26 million sheep. Agriculture accounts for half of the country’s total emissions, including 91% of biogenic emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that warms the planet more than 80 times faster than carbon dioxide in the short term.
The industry was previously exempt from the national emissions trading scheme, a state regulator that limits emissions by sector.
“No other country in the world has developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers will benefit from being at the forefront,” Ardern said.
But farming groups are unconvinced and have expressed concern about the high costs this imposes on the industry. He said, “Andrew Hoggard, president of rural advocacy group Federated Farmers, said in a statement that the government’s plan would “rip the guts out of small New Zealand towns”.
“We didn’t sign up for it. It’s heartbreaking to think that we now have this government proposal to tear our work hearts apart. From the families who farm this land,” he said. “Our plan was to keep farmers engaged in farming. Now it sells out so quickly that you can’t even hear a dog barking behind Ute when you drive.”
However, the proposal hopes to encourage farmers to cut emissions without incurring harmful costs and it will be returned to the agricultural sector through incentive payments to farmers,” he said.
Some of these technologies are already in use.
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