The Zero Carbon Bill closed after a six-week public consultation last Thursday and once it is passed into legislation later in the year, it will set New Zealand on a course to meet international climate change commitments.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle spoke to The Country Early Edition's Rowena Duncum about the bill, which he says has had a mixed reception.
"It is contentious not only in New Zealand but worldwide ... but the evidence is growing day by day that we've got change going on here and we've got to do something about it."
DairyNZ has submitted to support the second option proposed by the Government which is a 2050 emission reduction target. This involves reducing long-lived gases (like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) to net zero, and stabilise short-lived gases (like methane) at a reduced level.
"The point with methane really is that while its warming impact is greater than carbon dioxide, it doesn't hang around in the atmosphere forever like CO2," says Mackle, "and on that basis ... we do need to treat it differently ... [which] will be part of the discussions going forward."
The Zero Carbon Bill has sparked commentary in the media about issues that weren't up for debate within the consultation, including whether agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Mackle says an independent Climate Change Commission will deal with that issue, and he believes other countries do not include agriculture in an ETS. However, Mackle says "if we can do things in a clever way and keep working on methane ... we can probably achieve a workable outcome for all."
The Zero Carbon Bill will:
- Set a 2050 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Propose to set five-yearly emissions budgets 15 years in advance
- Establish an independent Climate Change Commission
- Put a plan in place for how we can adapt to the ongoing impact of climate change.