Only one of the proposed options for a new emissions reduction target in the Government's Zero Carbon Bill consultation paper is both achievable and responsible, according to DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

"To secure New Zealand's future as a sustainable agricultural nation, we must see long-lived gases reduced to nett zero, and short-lived gases like methane reduced and stabilised in accordance with scientific evidence," he said.

"We know methane needs to reduce, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the Government on just how much that reduction needs to be."

Science showed that methane did not need to be reduced to zero because it was a short-lived gas, which could be reduced and stabilised "at a certain point", he said.


Methane was released as part of a cow's digestive process, which would make a nett zero methane emission target extremely difficult for the agricultural sector to meet, while allowing a specific quantity of methane emissions would safeguard New Zealand's future as an agricultural nation he said.

"Right now we are working with farmers to help them optimise their farm systems, which will assist in reducing methane. We're also investing in the development of a methane vaccine and inhibitor via the PGgRc," Dr Mackle said.

"All three proposed targets will still require significant uptake in forestry planting, and we hope to work with the government on simple changes to ETS forestry regulations to make planting more accessible for dairy farmers.

"Regardless of the new emissions reduction target chosen, New Zealand needs to be planning for a different climate," he added.

"We support and welcome the Government's commitment to planning early and avoiding sudden change. This will allow all sectors to transition over time.

"All New Zealanders need to do their bit. We want to see all sectors aligned and accountable towards a common goal that will see New Zealand achieve a low emissions economy."

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