A suspected arson on a Wairarapa farm yesterday morning proved an early precursor to the fiery rhetoric from some quarters to the Government's announcement on agricultural emissions 10 minutes down the road.
The world-first He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership scheme proposes that New Zealand farmers will pay for their emissions by 2025. The revenue will be recycled back into agriculture sector through new technology, research and incentive payments to farmers.
The Act Party inflammably declared that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has destroyed the most efficient farming industry in the world. Federated Farmers said the proposals would "rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand".
"The Government's plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumarunui - pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South - will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say 'ETS application," said Fed Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.
It should be remembered that the Government has, for the most part, delivered what farmers asked for after calls from the sector to have a farmgate emissions pricing system that would reward climate-friendly farmers.
However, it isn't all everything the sector asked for. Notably, a request that levies be set by the sector has been expunged. These instead, will be set by the Government, with the Climate Change Commission in a "critical role" by acting independently on evidence and research.
The green lobby was also unimpressed, with Greenpeace saying the scheme will fail to cut climate emissions from agriculture.
The Government naturally focused on the advantages of the proposals, saying New Zealand farmers could lead the world in reducing emissions and gain a competitive advantage in green-conscious global marketplace.
In calling the scheme a world first, the Government has unnecessarily portrayed New Zealand as an outlier. The Dutch government's proposals for tackling nitrogen emissions indicate a radical cut in livestock - they estimate 11,200 farms will have to close and another 17,600 farmers will have to significantly reduce their livestock.
Ireland has also entrenched agricultural emissions reduction into law, while Germany and France have also set targets.
It is likely to reduce herds in New Zealand as some high-emission farms depart the sector but many will find ways to maintain profitability while paying the price and taking advantage of the so-called "backstop" of forestry offsetting.
No one should be surprised as this scheme has been worked on since 2019.
Meanwhile, calls for more urgent action continue to pile up. Two-and-a-half hours after the Government announced the proposals on the farm in Featherston, the World Meteorological Organisation warned the supply of electricity from clean energy sources must double within the next eight years to limit global temperature increase. Otherwise, there is a risk that climate change, more extreme weather and water stress will undermine our energy security and even jeopardise renewable energy supplies
Ultimately, this is a message no government would want to deliver. That flames of condemnation come from all sides will give this Government some confidence it has landed somewhere near the right position.