Controversial biological methane targets in the Government's much-touted Zero Carbon Bill remain unchanged, despite strong lobbying from both environmentalists and farmers.
After months of scrutiny from MPs from both sides of the political aisle, the environmental select committee today released its much-anticipated report on the Zero Carbon Bill.
It shows the legislation's original commitment to reducing biological methane – greenhouse emission from cows and sheep – by between 24-47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, remains in place.
This is despite intense lobbying for the targets to be fixed, not at a range, at either 24 or 47 per cent.
National is not happy. Its environmental spokesman Scott Simpson said not nearly enough of the bill had changed.
"We don't think there have been any significant or substantial changes to the bill, as introduced," he said.
Despite this, National won't say whether or not it will support the bill in its second reading, like it did with the first.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the range is based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s science, which cited international evidence.
She is confident the bill still strikes the right balance.
Meanwhile Climate Change Minister James Shaw - who is in charge of the bill - said after 10,000 written submissions on the bill, it's now stronger and will "ensure a safe planet for our kids and grandkids".
The report takes into consideration any changes to the proposed law industry players, such as Fonterra and Greenpeace, want to see.
There were hundreds of submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill.
There are many minor changes to the bill which, according to the committee's chairman Duncan Webb said "strikes the right balance".
The legislation's commitment to reducing all greenhouse gas emissions, aside from biogenic methane, to net-zero by 2050 also remains unchanged.
Simpson said the 24-47 range not changing created uncertainty for industry players.
"It is too high given the current level of technology available to farmers to make meaningful reductions to biological methane."
He said currently, the only way farmers can reduce this type of biological methane is by reducing their stock count.
But Shaw had previously said this won't be the case, as advances in agricultural technology would mean adaption would be doable without reducing stock numbers.
He said the committee has heard from people who wanted a higher methane target and also who wanted a lower methane target, and have not reached agreement to recommend a change.
"We have set that target in accordance with what we believe is necessary to achieve our 1.5-degree goal."
The next stage of making the bill law is a second reading in the House and then a further debate among MPs about any further changes needed in the committee of the whole House.
Simpson said National will be pushing for a number of changes to the bill, including for the independent Climate Change Committee to be able to set to biological methane target, not the Government.
"It's our view that it should be the Climate Change Commission itself that recommends what the level of methane reduction should be."
He said the commission was best placed to provide independent science-based analysis on what the level should be.
But Ardern said it would be highly likely that the Climate Change Commission would use the same evidence base that the Government used when coming up with the 24-47 per cent range.
"What we're acknowledging [with the range] is that it's a changing environment and that's why the Climate Commission has the ability to keep assessing where New Zealand will be within that evidence-based."
Those in the dairy sector urged the Government to adopt the 24 per cent level as 47 per cent was "setting farmers up to fail," according to Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle.
Fonterra said it supported a methane target of up to 24 per cent.
But environmental groups, predictably, took a different stance. Greenpeace called the bill "toothless" and Forest and Bird wanted to see an "even stronger" reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from farming.
The Government unveiled the Zero Carbon Bill in May this year with much fanfare; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a "landmark" piece of legislation.
"New Zealanders have demanded it – and today we delivered it."
Based on the original estimates of the bill's progression through the Parliamentary system, the bill was mean to be introduced into the House October last year and in force last month.
However, it has been delayed a number of times.