Climate change

Climate change

Changes to the world climate resulting from greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity pose an acute threat to civilisation. Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand is committed to playing its part in reducing emissions so that global temperatures do not increase by more than 1.5 deg C over pre-industrial levels.

Because the agriculture sector is the largest single source of NZ greenhouse gas emissions – about 48 per cent of the total – it needs to play its part in reducing emissions. 

The NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the policy tool used by the government to provide industries and consumers with a price incentive to reduce their emissions.

Under the ETS, each industrial sector must account for their emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and pay for these with NZ units (NZUs) issued under the NZETS. For industries that are exposed to international competition, ‘free’ NZUs are issued by the government to offset some of their obligations. Owners of land can offset some of their emissions by planting plantations of trees that store carbon as they grow.

Until now, agriculture has been exempted from having to pay for its emissions. This will change from 2020 when it will be transitioned into the NZETS. Full participation is expected from 2025. At that time, farmers will need to pay for a proportion of their emissions of methane and nitrous oxide.

Although farmers are not yet direct participants in the ETS, the day when they will have to account for their emissions is not far away. This section provides an outline of what you can do on your farm to reduce your emissions.