Government and industry partners release report on biological emissions

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A new report shows many farmers want to take action to reduce emissions, but need more information about what steps they can take.  

It also shows if all farmers operated using today's best practice, we may be able to reduce emissions by up to 10%. Continued funding for research into new, novel technologies will be important for reducing emissions further.  

The Biological Emissions Reference Group Report is the culmination of 2 years of research into the opportunities, costs and barriers to reducing biological emissions in New Zealand's primary industries.  

The Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG) is a joint agriculture industry-government working group of 9 key organisations: Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, Deer Industry NZ, Federated Farmers, The Fertiliser Association of NZ, Fonterra, HortNZ, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and Ministry for the Environment (MfE).  

Penny Nelson, deputy director general policy and trade at MPI, says the group saw the need for a good evidence base to support the sector to address some key climate challenges. 

"Farmers were asking what practical things they can do to reduce their emissions. We needed to improve our shared understanding of the possible innovation and solutions, and the barriers standing in farmers' way."

"The findings highlight the need for good information and tailored advice for farmers", says Dr Tim Mackle, chief executive at DairyNZ. 

"There is no single answer to reducing emissions – we'll need a combination of solutions tailored to land and farm types.  

"The primary sectors will face a lot of change over the next few decades, as they have the last few. This evidence will help farmers, government and advisors to steer the right path and understand the possible costs."  

Cheryl Barnes, deputy secretary, water and climate change at MFE, says "It's great that the agricultural sectors and government are working in partnership to provide information to inform discussion on these important issues."  

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says "an additional benefit from establishing BERG has been strengthening the relationships between its members. Our farmers have already made progress in reducing emissions and improving productivity and are committed to continuing on this journey."   

The reference group commissioned 9 new research projects. The work has already informed advice to the government on options for the 2050 emissions target, and will feed into future planning and policy. It has also been used by the Productivity Commission, the Interim Climate Change Committee, and industry.  

The BERG plans to host an event in early 2019 to discuss the analysis and findings in more depth.

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