Deer voice must not be lost in the fresh start for climate change policy

Jun 21, 2024

The deer industry has welcomed “wholeheartedly” the fresh start for climate change policy. That was heralded by the Coalition Government’s announcement last week that He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) is to be scrapped and replaced with a new Pastoral Sector Group (PSG) to tackle on-farm methane emissions reduction and that pricing of agricultural emissions is to be pulled out of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

“Working collectively with other pastoral sectors is a step in the right direction. However, it is also essential that our voice must not be lost,” says DINZ environmental stewardship manager Luka Jansen.

The deer industry’s unique circumstances need to be taken into account in the PSG’s decision-making. Photo: Jenny McMurdo.

“We want the government to recognise that as our sector is already an efficient producer of high-quality products, further emission reductions on-farm at present are not viable,” she says.

A recent DINZ/B+LNZ joint submission to the Climate Change Commission, noted methane emissions from beef, sheep and deer have already fallen, at least in part because of increased afforestation.

Deer numbers are expected to be down 11.2 percent and deer methane down 11.5 percent on the 2017 base year. So, the submission points out, “deer emissions are already over the current methane reduction target of 10 percent reduction by 2030, posed in the Zero Carbon Act,” – six years before needed.

Deer emissions have already reduced more than required in the legislation, argues Luka Jansen.

“We’re pleased to hear the government is investing further in R&D to develop practical tools to help lower on-farm emissions. However, what has been lacking is strong engagement with farmers to ensure those proposed tools are usable, safe and beneficial,” Jansen explains.

Terms of reference for the PSG are now being drawn up by government for agreement with its members  which – alongside DINZ – also include Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers and dairy industry bodies. The Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) is also showing its interest in being at the table with the group.

HWEN came together originally as a way to work with the Labour/Green government on pricing agricultural GHG emissions. It is recognised the initiative ultimately failed and it has been disestablished.

Government is committed to meeting our climate change obligations without shutting down Kiwi farms,” said agriculture minister Todd McClay last week when announcing the Coalition Government’s changes.

It is making a “fresh start on how we engage with farmers and processors to work on biogenic methane,” he said.


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