The New Zealand government has drawn ire from the country’s farmers after it announced a proposal to tax the greenhouse gases emitted by livestock as part of their burping and urination.
With a population of about 5 million people, New Zealand has about 10 million dairy and beef cattle and 26 million sheep. About half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to come from livestock. Farmers will start paying for their emissions from 2025, according to government plans. The funds raised will be invested in the industry for research and incentives for farmers.
New Zealand has committed to making the country carbon neutral by 2050. This includes reducing her livestock emissions of methane by 10% by 2030 and 47% by 2050.
Agriculture Minister Damian O’Connor said the proposed tax would be good for both the environment and the economy and was an exciting opportunity for the country’s farmers. Associated Press.
Federated Farmers, a lobbying group for New Zealand farmers with over 13,000 members in 2021, condemned the government move.
A plan envisioned by the government aims to cut dairy farming by 5% and sheep and beef cattle farming by 20% to meet “unscientific and reckless” greenhouse gas emissions targets. said Federated Farmers. Position October 11th.
“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s heartbreaking to think that the government has made such an offer and that it’s taking our hearts away from the work we’ve been doing,” Fede said. Andrew Hoggard, Rated Farmers National President and Climate Change Spokesperson.
“Our plan was to keep the farmers farming. Now they’re selling out so fast you won’t even hear a dog barking behind Ute. [pickup truck] when they drive away.
The myth of cow expulsion
Attempts to control emissions from livestock are often based on the belief that such emissions contribute to global warming. in 2019 interview Dr. Frank Mitroner, a professor of animal sciences at the University of California, Davis, along with animal nutrition company Alltech, have dismissed such claims.
Mitloehner pointed out that the three greenhouse gases at the center of the global warming problem are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Cows are responsible for the methane they produce.
Both carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide have “very long lives” and can persist in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years. But methane has a lifespan of only 10 years, he pointed out.
After 10 years, the released methane will be destroyed. So if countries like the United States and New Zealand keep their livestock constant, they’re also keeping methane constant, so they’re never really “increasing global warming.”
“All the emissions inventories and all the media outputs you hear about assume that all the methane produced by, say, cows adds up, but that’s not the case. It’s destroyed, so methane is very different from other gases, and it’s very important to know that,” Mitloehner said.