The BERG report: ministers welcome agricultural sector’s work on emissions

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have welcomed the report of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), which has been released today.

The report shows many farmers want to take action to reduce emissions, but need more information about what steps they can take.

It also shows if all farmers operated using today’s best practice, New Zealand may be able to reduce emissions by up to 10%. Continued funding for research into new, novel technologies will be important for reducing emissions further.

The Biological Emissions Reference Group Report is the culmination of two years of research into the opportunities, costs and barriers to reducing biological emissions in New Zealand’s primary industries.

The group is a joint agriculture industry-government working group of nine key organisations: Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, Deer Industry NZ, Federated Farmers, The Fertiliser Association of NZ, Fonterra, HortNZ, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and Ministry for the Environment (MfE).

In essence, BERG has looked at what lowering emissions means for the primary sector, said Damien O’Connor.

He thanked the group for taking on the challenge to help answer some big questions and said it had provided a comprehensive range of findings, from farmers’ perceptions of climate change through to views on the likelihood of new technologies being available to reduce emissions in future.

James Shaw said a key finding is that, overall, biological emissions in the future could potentially be reduced 10 – 21% by 2030 and – 48% by 2050.

That offered real hope to farmers and agricultural businesses which wanted to reduce emissions while maintaining productivity and profitability.

“It also offers real hope to a world that needs to expand food production for a growing global population but also needs to bring down climate pollution at the same time,” Mr Shaw said.

And it highlights the importance of clear government policies so farmers can make well-informed decisions about

Penny Nelson, deputy director general policy and trade at MPI, said the group saw the need for a good evidence base to support the sector to address some key climate challenges.

“Farmers were asking what practical things they can do to reduce their emissions. We needed to improve our shared understanding of the possible innovation and solutions, and the barriers standing in farmers’ way.”

Cheryl Barnes, deputy secretary, water and climate change at MFE, said it’s great that the agricultural sectors and government are working in partnership to provide information to inform discussion on these important issues.  

The reference group commissioned nine new research projects. The work has already informed advice to the government on options for the 2050 emissions target, and will feed into future planning and policy. It has also been used by the Productivity Commission, the Interim Climate Change Committee, and industry.

The BERG plans to host an event in early 2019 to discuss the analysis and findings in more depth.

Source:  Ministers of Agriculture and Climate Change

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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