Taking action to cut dairy emissions
4 May 2018
The climate change debate continued to simmer in the run-up to last month’s General Election. But with the new Dairy Action for Climate Change underway, our dairy sector has responded positively to public comment.
In New Zealand, the dairy sector is responsible for about a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions. The Dairy Action for Climate Change, launched in June, provides an 18-month plan to bring the sector together to address on-farm dairy greenhouse gas emissions – within the context of a profitable and sustainable dairy sector.
Last month, a series of rural professional workshops were held to build awareness of the greenhouse gas inventory system and provide information on the mitigation options currently available. These workshops will also be rolled out to farmers in 2018.
Many farmers are already doing things that lower on-farm emissions, such as planting trees, and creating riparian margins and wetlands. The Dairy Action for Climate Change sets out achievable steps to educate farmers, raise awareness and empower those who are taking positive steps already.
By ensuring we’re all doing everything possible, we can demonstrate to the public and our international customers that New Zealand lives up to its reputation as an environmentally-responsible dairy-producing nation. It’s important that we show this leadership because climate change will become increasingly topical over the coming years.
In the run-up to the General Election this year, a group of 39 mayors around New Zealand issued a declaration calling for the government to take more action on our country towards a low-carbon future. This declaration pre-empted the release that same week of a report by the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, who issued a rallying call to MPs of all parties: it’s time to come together to tackle climate change.
Dr Wright’s report called for the setting of carbon budgets as ‘stepping stones’ towards New Zealand’s commitment under the Paris Agreement that by 2030 we’ll have reduced absolute emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels. DairyNZ supported the premise of the report, with chief executive Tim Mackle saying the dairy sector is faced with a great deal of uncertainty right now.
While many uncertainties remain, one thing remains constant: the ever-increasing public expectation that our dairy sector mustn’t sit idle while the climate change debate rears up around us. The Paris Agreement covers all gases and all sectors. Therefore, although we have limited tools available to reduce emissions, we must do what we can while the science catches up.
Further details on the Dairy Action for Climate Change, visit dairynz.co.nz/climate-change.
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