If Hawke's Bay farmers slashed their livestock numbers by 13.6 per cent, the same number of livestock would simply appear in another part of the world due to demand, Federated Farmers says.
Unveiled on Wednesday, a Climate Change Commission report recommended cutting livestock numbers in NZ by 13.6 per cent by 2030 – down slightly from 15 per cent quoted in January's draft report.
The long-awaited report lays out pathways for New Zealand to meet its greenhouse gas reduction obligations by 2050 after the draft report warned the country was on track to fall millions of tonnes short of hitting targets under current climate change policies.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council chief executive James Palmer welcomed the report, stating it reinforces the two major emissions challenges faced in Hawke's Bay - agriculture and transport.
Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said while possible, the livestock decrease may not be beneficial to the greater cause.
Hoggard said reducing livestock numbers locally or nationally will lead to market demand being met from elsewhere.
"Someone else will take up the slack and produce that dairy for more emissions, and the planet overall is no better off," he said.
"I worry we get a little too focused on the New Zealand approach, particularly when it comes to agriculture, and not thinking about how our agriculture sector fits into the global context."
The commission predicted herd numbers will drop by 8 per cent anyway, but recommended stepping up the decrease further.
According to the report, agriculture accounts for 91 per cent of biogenic methane emissions in New Zealand.
Palmer said agriculture makes up most of the region's emissions, followed by transport.
"Council is already working with our farmers and growers to plant trees to strengthen our hills to reduce erosion and improve water quality, as well as sequester carbon," he said.
"This is supported by the report which recommends more planting on less productive, steep land, which fits with our upcoming Right Tree Right Place programme."
Hoggard added that the report will need to be backed up with significant investment in improving access to science and technology on farms.
"Right now farmers and growers are feeling totally slammed by regulation changes, uncertain international markets and desperate labour force shortages," he said.
"It would have been heartening for us to see the commission acknowledge these pressures and recommend non-regulatory solutions."
Within transport, the report recommended that nearly all cars imported by 2035 should be electric vehicles, a renewable energy target of 50 by the end of 2035 and to set targets to get more people walking, cycling and using public transport by the end of 2022.
Palmer said to address the high transport emissions in Hawke's Bay, council is rolling out a new way of delivering public transport in 2022 with an on-demand transport service trial in Hastings.
"Our Sustainable Homes programme is supporting families to install solar panels which is a win-win if they use them to charge electric vehicles," he added.
"The reality is that we need to make our region and community more resilient to the challenges of a changing climate. We're doing this by prioritising work to make our flood schemes, water security, and coast resilient."
Palmer said the report shows meeting targets are "achievable and affordable".
"It also outlines how expensive it will get the longer we delay taking action; the commission's estimates show that if we delay taking action it could end up doubling what it would cost if we were start now."