The Government's plans to introduce a scheme that will see New Zealand farmers pay for emissions was met with a swift rebuke from the farming community.
Andrew Hoggard, the national president of Federated Farmers, tells the Front Page podcast that he is concerned about the impact this will have on small rural communities around New Zealand.
"What they're modelling is a 20 per cent reduction in output from the sheep and beef sector," says Hoggard.
"And if you think of small towns like Wairoa on the East Coast, the major employer there is the meatworks. That town pretty much exists to not only support the meatworks but to support the farming community around it. In all likelihood, the East Coast and that area, in particular, is going to be in the firing line. The effects will be felt harder there than potentially in other regions."
Hoggard anticipates it is likely that more farms will leave the sheep and beef business.
"It won't take much of a drop to hit a tipping point for the freezing works where they go: 'Well, it's no longer profitable here.' And once that happens, you're just going to have a massive flow-on effect in that town in terms of unemployment. That's going to impact the businesses that used to support the freezing works, but also the businesses that supported the farms in that area. It's going to be quite a considerable impact and it's going to be acute in a number of small rural towns."
In addition to Wairoa, Hoggard also identifies Pahiatua and Taumarunui as towns that could be affected by the change.
Hoggard expressed concern that these towns may not be able to adapt to the changes quickly enough to offer the population new jobs.
"These towns have a long history of providing these services and jobs around that area," says Hoggard.
"It will take a hell of a lot of the community. And what can they replace it with? It's all good to say 'We'll come up with a just transition and dream up some imaginary green jobs, but these are real jobs that are right there right now."
Much of New Zealand's agriculture is exported to other countries, with a high demand for meat and dairy products.
That demand is not likely to reduce if New Zealand's output decreases, meaning the gap will likely be filled by other nations.
"Taking this production out of New Zealand could increase global emissions because someone else, somewhere else will need to replace it."
The countries that fill the gap in that demand might not be as committed to climate change goals as New Zealand is.
"India is at 23 per cent of world milk production, and their ambition is to keep growing at 6 per cent per year to be at 43 per cent in 20 to 30 years," says Hoggard.
"They've got a carbon footprint per litre of milk that's about 10 times what you get for a New Zealand litre of milk … And when questioned on what sustainability meant to them, they said: 'a full belly'. That's as far as they're interested in sustainability going.
"And so it really made me think if New Zealand's place in the world is cutting our own production, cutting our own throats, or is it about taking our know-how and can-do attitude to other agricultural systems in the world."
Given this is the first attempt to do anything like this in the world, Prime Minister Ardern admitted that the system would not be perfect from the outset.
"The objective in driving as much consensus as possible is important in getting a system that lasts the distance and, importantly, over time, we can refine together to make sure it can achieve our shared goals," Ardern.
If Hoggard's comments are anything to go by, some members of the farming community may take longer than others to join that consensus.
The onus now rests on the Government to make sure that there is a broad enough consensus – otherwise, this policy could be vulnerable to future governments.
• The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am.