July 16, 2018

Change = opportunity ahead for New Zealand’s agriculture sector

Agriculture hasn’t always been at the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change, but that time has passed.  

Fonterra’s Group Environment Manager, Francesca Eggleton, talks about the opportunity ahead for New Zealand’s agriculture sector and its important role in helping the country meet its Paris commitments. 

We’ve seen a range of big moves around climate change recently - the Net Zero Carbon Act, the release of the Productivity Commission’s report and the Government’s restriction on oil and gas exploration. These developments will have a major impact on our country, the people who live in it, and the businesses that operate here.

Farmers are some of the most down to earth and forward-looking people around and their business smarts are often under-rated. A lot of them will see what’s happening as an opportunity; indeed, many already do. Innovative thinking around lowering emissions is reshaping how they do things daily.

Given the size of emissions that come from agriculture in New Zealand, the opportunity for the sector to innovate and lead the world is plain to see. Already a new sensor based irrigation system trialled in Canterbury is changing the way farmers make watering decisions. The sensors transmit data to a mobile app that gives them moisture levels in paddocks across the farm, enabling more selective water use and less nutrient run off. Elsewhere, a two-year, 100 farm pilot measuring greenhouse gas emissions is helping farmers identify the best opportunities to cut CO2 output and develop practical strategies to reduce emissions, by changing the way they tend their land.

Fonterra supports the Government lifting the country’s ambition by establishing a Zero Carbon Bill and a 2050 target. We support a science based approach to setting the target where long-lived gases are reduced to net zero and methane is reduced and stabilised. We need to ensure the Government’s framework allows for a smooth, well-signalled transition so we can continue to innovate and adapt to the challenge of climate change.

We’re up for the challenge though. That’s why we joined 60 of New Zealand’s leading corporates including the likes of Air NZ, Z Westpac, Ngai Tahu Holdings and Spark to form the Climate Leaders Coalition. Together we’ve made a pledge to measure and report our greenhouse gas emissions, and work with suppliers to reduce emissions.  The businesses represented in the coalition generate nearly half the country’s emissions so the announcement has the potential to be truly transformative.

New Zealand has given the world the Hamilton Jet, the egg-beater, bungee jumping, the jetpack and amphibious car and much more. What we deliver in agriculture has the potential to change the world for the better. 

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