While Federated Farmers has welcomed consultation on the next set of proposed amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), it is concerned about the accessibility of consultation venues.
“What the Ministry for the Environment released yesterday are pre-legislative proposals. We’ll have another opportunity to comment once amending legislation is tabled,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on climate change, speaking from overseas.
“It also represents the first in a number of amendments proposed for the ETS. There’ll be more to come related to synthetic gases, waste, electricity and of course, forestry.
“The one big concern we have is about the consultation meetings being focused on main centres or larger towns. There’s only about seven remotely close to rural centres and that means, for example, a farmer in the Wairarapa has a round trip of six hours just to make the Whanganui meeting.
“That inaccessibility I believe is wrong. If we are going to have consultation meetings then make it accessible to everyone. While Federated Farmers will use its networks to develop an overarching perspective, individual farmers genuinely wish to participate too.
“There’s also little doubt much will be made of biological emissions being pushed back by up to three years from the 2014 review.
“To farmers, this is a realistic appraisal and is not a ‘free ride’ some will claim. Farmers, just like everyone else, pay the ETS daily on everything we consume. That means fertiliser, feed, fuel and electricity, literally everything, is subject to the ETS.
“The revised timetable applies to the enrolment of biological emissions and frankly that needs a global research effort to crack. Something New Zealand is leading through the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
“When it comes to agricultural emissions, New Zealand has an outstanding story to tell.
“The march of technology means over the past 20 years, emissions in every single unit of agricultural product have fallen by about 1.3 percent each year. This is a remarkable achievement because the ETS is only one means to gain greater emissions efficiency.
“The timetable also reflects important externalities, such as a possible change of government in Australia after next November’s Federal elections. Given planned alignment with the Australian ETS, this could become a key factor
“Federated Farmers will encourage the Ministry for the Environment to widen its consultation meetings to rural areas,” Dr Rolleston concluded.