Audit solutions won’t work against climate change – look at the practical side

It is encouraging to see greater acceptance of the need to address climate change. What is frustrating is the lack of meaningful engagement and lack of applied science to find solutions.

Much of it was sloganeering and talking parties combined with accusations pointing to who the worst perpetrators are by country and industry.

I am definitely biased. I am a farmer and I take issue with some of the hyperbole directed at the industry that largely creates most of the wealth that pays for so much of our country’s social needs and services.

New Zealand is the most efficient food producer in the world.

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In the 1990s, a program called ‘food miles’ was launched against New Zealand products, by European interests trying to shore up sales of their products against imports.

It blew up a lot in their face when serious analysis proved that even after shipping and distribution footprints were calculated, our product was being produced so efficiently that the European product was just behind New Zealand in carbon footprint . Food miles included.

I have heard figures suggesting that agriculture is responsible for around 80% of New Zealand’s carbon footprint.

But one of the problems we have is that the international methodology for calculating the carbon footprint is to take the amount of food produced by a country and divide the emissions created by the number of people living there.

So New Zealand will always look overkill in such a system when we produce six times the amount of food we can consume in this country because we are export oriented.

The second question that skews our figures is whether the calculations are made on a net or gross calculation.

It is quite simple to do calculations on what an animal’s perceived emission profile is. But animals don’t just sit in a pen and broadcast.

They must consume foliage that has already sequestered carbon – so the net figure is the most important.

Pointing the finger at agriculture when the urban population is reluctant to get rid of inefficient gasoline or diesel vehicles will get us nowhere.

We now come to the political solutions. It was suggested that we should reduce the cattle by 15%. There is also a tendency to plant significant tracts of productive land with trees. Where is the science in this approach?

Many ongoing activities, which will produce long-term solutions, are completely ignored at this time.

Work is progressing on grassland with less methane release.

Work at the Cawthron Institute and also in Australia is looking at additives such as the seaweed asparagopsis which appears to have a significant impact as a methane inhibitor when used in animal feed.

In New Zealand, we have completely ignored soil carbon sequestration under pasture. At least Australia is doing some serious work on this.

One of the most exciting prospects is to identify animals with low emission potential.

Work to date shows that the most efficient animals have a 70% lower methane emissions footprint than the worst emitters and this trait is highly heritable.

So one wonders why downsizing and planting trees should take precedence over what may be a long-term solution.

Moreover, it will put New Zealand in a market with increasing discretion on these matters, a significant advantage. Not to mention providing the world with much-needed solutions.

What we seem to be doing is providing an auditing solution in a world that needs effective practical solutions as it struggles to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions liabilities.

Every time I walk through Central Otago and see a patch of ground that was devastated by sluice or gold dredging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I can’t help but to think that the gold mined at the time was worth about six dollars. an ounce.

Some of New Zealand’s best horticultural land, destroyed.

Is there a parallel when foreign interests are currently outbidding the productive sector and buying properties on a large scale in many parts of our country?

There seem to be two sets of rules. If I want to change the land use on my property, I have to go through a consent process that stands in stark contrast to foreign interests without scrutiny of forest species – in a country where we currently spend millions on pine infestation wild.

Then there is the issue of community breakdown. Plant a significant portion of any district with trees, then there is depopulation. The local school, mail car, and other services become unsustainable, the remaining landowners lose heart, and the cycle of reforestation accelerates.

When it comes to our transportation footprint, there has been virtually no progress. Yes, there has been some increase in electric vehicles, but on a very small basis.

If we are to break out of our reliance on fossil fuels, one might assume that around 30% of our transportation fleet could become electric or hybrid vehicles assuming the world can produce enough lithium for batteries and proper disposal used batteries can be carried out.

Of the rest, which are mainly heavy vehicles, the new technologies around hydrogen are the most promising.

If we are to manage electricity sustainably, Huntley and the 2 million tonnes of imported coal must be phased out. Our regenerative electricity production will have to almost triple. Interesting debates will have to take place as we find solutions that will require compromises. Nuclear reactors?

Some of the hydroelectric plants that have been excluded due to environmental concerns will have to be brought back on the table.

For generations, we have shown a dynamic, problem-solving attitude that has been a world leader.

At the end of the 19th century, explorer Henry Homer, having forged the Hollyford Valley, sat astride the pass at the top, gazing down the Cleddeau Valley which leads to Milford and remarked that a tunnel was needed.

When he made this comment, there were four automobiles in the country.

Lacking that kind of commitment, our grandchildren will most likely be some kind of new age hippies practicing itinerant horticulture in the glades of the National Pinewood.

  • Eric Roy is a farmer, advisor to Environment Southland and former MP for Invercargill and Awarua.

Maria D. Ervin