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Press Release

Setting the record straight on methane

Groundswell NZ

We’re emailing to update you on how the debate on methane is developing, and what you can do about the rates hikes rolling out across the country.

Setting the record straight on methane

The methane science is far from settled
The Government has announced they are preparing to review the science to better understand the contribution methane makes to warming. Groundswell NZ is taking a keen interest in this review and make sure it isn't just a whitewash of the existing policies. We've already seen attempts to shut down the debate by claiming the science is settled coming from some corners, like the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Make no mistake, this is clearly not the case. The IPCC has some gaps in their logic that Groundswell NZ will be demanding answers on.

One key to understanding the true warming effect of methane emissions is a detailed assessment of the recent Happer & Wijngaarden paper. This new research found that the existing IPCC calculations do not properly factor in the influence of water vapour and therefore greatly overestimate the warming contribution of methane and N2O.

The stakes are high. If the Happer & Wijngaarden paper holds up to scrutiny, it could mean agricultural emissions are not, in fact, relevant to climate change.
Pushing false narratives
With the discussion on emissions science ramping up, so is the misinformation. Groundswell NZ would like to correct the record on two common false narratives pushed onto farmers.

New Zealand farmers risk losing market access if we don’t reduce emissions!
This false statement is largely being pushed by Fonterra, but is often repeated by other poorly informed commentators. There is zero risk of New Zealand agriculture losing market access due to our emissions profile. We are already global leaders of emissions efficiency, before the likes of Nestle or Tesco denies New Zealand market access on emissions grounds, almost the entire EU agricultural industry would have already lost their market access. This will not happen. Customers cannot replace NZ produce without increasing their Scope 3 emissions.

Aiming for ‘no additional warming’ gives farmers a free pass!
There appears to be a general lack of understanding about the relationship between methane and CO2 with regards to warming. A recent Farmer’s Weekly article by Bryan Gibson accused farmers of getting a free pass by “forgiving historical emissions.” This is not correct.

Setting methane reduction targets at ‘no additional warming’ would mean that both methane and CO2 are being treated equally. No additional warming for CO2 is achieved when emissions are equivalent to sequestration (Net Zero). The only difference with Net Zero for methane is that methane emissions decay naturally instead of requiring sequestration. Net ZeroCO2 also ‘locks in’ historic warming, as the criticism goes for methane, but that approach is considered an effective solution by the government, so Groundswell NZ is confused why a supposed double standard is invoked by some commentators. You may wish to draw your own conclusions.
Sustainable emissions management
Free-market principles
Groundswell NZ supports free market principles and believes emissions management should be no different. We are concerned that farmers could be coerced by either processors or banks into adopting uneconomic mitigation technologies. We acknowledge that some customers are seeking to reduce their Scope 3 emissions, but Groundswell believes NZ farmers should start receiving a premium for our already excellent emissions profile before taking on further costs.

Ultimately, if a customer wants a low-emissions product that costs extra to produce, then it would be appropriate for that customer to pay a genuine premium to incentivise its production.

More emissions research oversight
There is growing concern that emissions research funding is, at times, being poorly allocated with minimal oversight. The Agri-zero consortium has received criticism for not considering the costs and practicalities of rolling out some of these proposed technologies. Groundswell is seeking better oversight on these decisions to ensure that technologies under development will be practical and cost-effective.

Rates hikes on the way

We know many councils are planning enormous rate hikes and have their Long Term Plans out for consultation.

While the exact balance of rates and services is up to each community, it's important that those communities are informed, engaged, and heard by their councils and councillors.

Groundswell NZ encourages everyone to join and engage with their local ratepayers associations or similar groups, and if there isn't one near you, go start one! The outcomes from Groundswell's campaigns are proof that organised people can make a difference in political decision making.

Thank you again for your support.

Kind regards,

Bryce, Laurie, Mel and the Team at Groundswell NZ

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