I think we need to get the balance right. Every business I am involved with is aware of the need to reduce emissions. Regardless of regulations our customers and investors are demanding it. Indeed we also get its the right thing to do!
All those businesses are also investing in technologies and looking globally for solutions. From a regulatory perspective, I don't think it makes sense to impose regulation to require emissions to be reduced, for example in agriculture, before there are viable solutions available to be adopted.
We should also take account of the fact that some of our industries,including agriculture, are already lower in emissions compared to global competitors who operate more intensive (less green) farming systems.
So, let's not harm our economy for the sake of trumpeting doing something about climate change when it will make little difference globally and there are not practical solutions available to address the problem.
We need to similarly take care that we don't kill local manufacturing by imposing tariffs and taxes that importers of those products don't bear. That makes no sense for our economy and does not contribute to reducing global emissions (as the same products are imported and thus come with more transport emissions).
I fear that it is becoming hard to have a rational debate about this in New Zealand. Anyone suggesting we seek some balance to protect the economy, jobs and the livelihoods of producers and businesses tends to get pilloried as not caring about climate change and playing our part.
In reality that is not the case. It's very easy to criticise farmers from your comfortable abode or tower in Auckland and Wellington when you don't face the challenge of actually needing to find viable solutions on farm when they have not yet been developed. Farmers do care very much about our environment and playing their part on climate change — I'm sure we'll develop solutions suitable for adoption in New Zealand — but we need time for that innovation to occur.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
• Cathy Quinn is director at Fonterra, Fletcher Building, and Tourism Holdings.