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DairyNZ is calling on Climate Change Minister James Shaw to go in to bat for Kiwi dairy farmers and the world-leading split gas approach at COP26.
New Zealand is the world's lowest emissions dairy milk producer and farmers wanted Shaw to highlight this at the 13-day climate change conference in Glasgow, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said.
"Firstly, tell the world that we're world-leading in terms of how efficient we are, the milk we produce and the amount of carbon used - that's an enviable position to be in and we should be proud of that," Mackle told The Country Sport Breakfast's Brian Kelly.
New Zealand also had a world-leading position on a split gas approach to climate change, which Shaw should be sharing as well, Mackle said.
"We are actually taking methane out and saying it's different to CO2 - let's treat it differently ... we want him to champion that."
DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers also want Shaw to strongly advocate for advanced metrics to measure and report on emissions, such as GWP* which better reflects the warming impact of methane over time.
This metric was grounded in the most recent science, Mackle said.
"The current metric that is being used, GWP100, could potentially overestimate the warming impact of methane - which is our main gas - by possibly three to four times more than what it really is when emissions are stable."
Agriculture's methane emissions had been relatively stable for the last five years in New Zealand, which meant using the GWP100 metric was inaccurate, Mackle said.
"Under those circumstances, with such a quick turnover of methane of around 12 years before it breaks down, using that other metric, which is more designed for long-lived gases, can overestimate the warming.
"We know the [new] GWP* metric does indicate if we bring it down and actually stabilise ... we can start to add to cooling, because of the turnover of that methane. So that's good news."
Meanwhile, New Zealand's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) had been updated at COP26 to reduce GHG emissions by 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The first NDC was 30 per cent.
COP26 also included an agreement to reduce methane by 30 per cent by 2030, which had Mackle concerned.
"We've already got a target in play now and it's quite steep - 10 per cent absolute reduction. We can't offset with trees, unlike CO2, so actually, there has to be a reduction overall.
"Because of that quick turnover of methane, a 10 per cent reduction could be very significant for our contributions to warming, or more importantly, to cooling."
DairyNZ already had a plan in place, through climate action partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which aimed to reduce agricultural emissions such as methane, Mackle said.
He said the NDC should be focused on long-lived gases, such as CO2 and nitrous oxide.
"Of course, those two gases are still relevant to us in agriculture, but not so much to livestock compared to methane."
Ultimately the updated NDC would affect all Kiwis, Mackle said.
"A 50 per cent reduction by 2030 is a big target - 2030's coming around quite fast now...and it does mean action.
"It won't just be down to farmers - everyone's got to play their part."