Guy Trafford wants all industries held to the same standards as agriculture in the worthy drive to reduce emissions, and wants less political posturing by those pointing their (well traveled) fingers

Guy Trafford wants all industries held to the same standards as agriculture in the worthy drive to reduce emissions, and wants less political posturing by those pointing their (well traveled) fingers

Agriculture has been singled out as a major cause for emissions in New Zealand and is being drawn in to pay for its externalities. Most, even within agriculture believe that this is correct and inevitable even if the amount and speed may be argued over.

Even Government has recognised the importance of farming to the economy and realise (apparently) that it needs to be treated differently to other industries to allow time to adjust and find new technologies.

Agriculture is New Zealand’s largest earner of overseas funds by quite a margin with land based primary industries expected to bring in nearly $44 billion this year. The next largest sector is tourism with a combined ‘worth’ of $39 billion but the international component of that $15 billion coming from our 4 million visitors. By 2025 visitor numbers are expected to rise to 5 million and the total sector ‘worth’ jumping to $50 billion.

It is probably worth adding here that one of the big attractants to New Zealand is the agricultural landscape and a fair percentage of what is spent is on New Zealand grown food and drink.

However, the challenge is going to be to make tourism sustainable and while the focus has been on agriculture tourism can’t be ignored.

Coming back to the country's emissions, a major part of the growth over the last ten or so years has come from transport and a large part of this increase has come from the increase in tourism and what some readers may not be aware of that this doesn’t even factor in the international travel. An anomaly of the UN programmes for GHG reductions is that international air travel is not included in the treaties the majority of countries signed up to and it is not until 2021 that international air travel comes in.

The reason for the omission is largely historical, going right back to a 1946 fuel tax agreement and political, the US, China (and Australia) not wishing to participate. However, none of this has done anything to reduce aircraft emissions.

While individual flights have become more efficient fuel wise, the shear size of the increase in air travel and reductions in costs mean that GHG emissions have significantly increased over time - to the point where if international air flights were now a country, depending upon whose figures you use as because of the lack of legislation numbers are difficult to confirm, it would rank between 10 and 20th of the highest countries’ emissions.

Tourist coming into New Zealand would have to have the highest carbon footprint of any country although with the majority of a jets fuel used on take-off and as this is the same whether flying 500 kms or 5,000 it is perhaps not as large as might be expected. With over a third of international visitors coming from Australia that also slightly improves the footprint, however as that is almost the same distance as London to Moscow it is still a major air flight.

Cruise liners while not bringing in the same numbers as air flights are not immune and one research paper states that the average person on a cruise ‘emits’ the equivalent carbon as a passenger on a return flight between London and Tokyo.

To date the only likely way to improve aircraft emissions is from the use of bio-fuels as electric technology is not likely to be invented in baby boomers life times.

So, a considerable international conversation needs to be had about how international air travel needs to be dealt with and with the projections for 2025 at 5 million there appears to be no expectation that visitor numbers will slacken off. In the meantime, farmers can feel a little aggrieved if nothing is done to address tourists’ footprint. So, when film director James Cameron says that livestock farmers contribution to climate change is “some kind of illness” perhaps he could look at his own footprint as I expect there is a fair bit of air travel involved and not too people many fed from it.

While on the topic of contradictory messages, the Canterbury Regional Council, ECAN, as a response to pressure from environmental activists Extinction Rebellion (XR) Ōtautahi has voted to declare a “Climate Emergency”. While largely symbolic the declaration would have a lot more meaning if ECAN’s record around the environment and resources was a bit more credible.

The decision to approve the Simons Pass development to carry up to 15,000 cows and a considerable water take plus the 14,000 cows in the Ngai Tahu Eyrewell development fly in the face of such declarations.

To date words rather than actions seem world's apart and while dairy farmers may feel relieved at this, it is only postponing a day of accounting. Adding more cows and development to Canterbury is exposing existing farmers further to public pressure and by signing such ‘agreements’ ECAN have raised the general publics expectations that they will, at some time, start taking action. We can hardly wait.

Dairy prices

Select chart tabs »

The 'GDT TWI index' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'GDT TWI index % change' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'GDT volumes sold' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
The ' GDT AMF' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'GDT Butter' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'GDT Cheddar' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The ' GDT SMP' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The ' GDT WMP' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'USDA Butter' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'USDA SMP' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The ' USDA WMP' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$
The 'USDA Cheddar' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
NZ$ 
US$

Fonterra share price

Select chart tabs »

The 'FCG' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
FCG Daily
Source: NZX
The ' FSF' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
FSF Daily
Source: NZX

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

5 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).

An anomaly of the UN programmes for GHG reductions is that international air travel is not included in the treaties the majority of countries signed up to and it is not until 2021 that international air travel comes in.

I'm still waiting for IPCC number crunchers to calculate the UNFCCC/IPCC carbon footprint. Guess I'll have to wait until 2021 :-).

Cannot believe the ECAN decision on those either - given the region has over-allocated water as it is. The 'schemes' they come up with to legitimise the carry on defy reality;

https://www.cpwl.co.nz/scheme-development-2/sheffield

If Canterbury were a fishery, it would have been closed long ago.

Mr Shaw sounds rather evasive in this article.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/112766706/why-nz-is-che...
Does he really think there will be 'electric plane' in the next decade?
Does he really believe the UN's Corsia agreement will apply an emission charge comperable to our various carbon taxes? Even if it does do so in future shouldn't NZ be applying similar climate change taxes to aviation fuel as it does to our cars?
As the link says ""The global economy runs on shipping and air freight. And tourism is New Zealand's biggest export sector. "" And the emission cost is 5% of our total emissions. We can't cull them like livestock but we can tax appropriately. It would increase the price of imports, move our tourism from freedom campers to higher value and longer stay, give a financial incentive to do more processing in NZ - furniture not logs, encourage local manufacturing.

It is cheating not to include these FF emissions.

Guy says 'importance to the economy'

That's an interesting comment - he's still back a-ways in the discussion. My circles are talking post-crash resilience. Post-crash food-distribution. Post-crash soil husbandry. Post-crash full-circle nutrient cycling.

Economy? This one doens't figure. There will be one, but not the one that agribusiness is important to'.

We will never have battery long-haul aircraft, btw. The margin isn't there.

What the article highlights is that notions of Equity and Integrity are completely absent from the context. The omission of international air travel is the poster child, but no doubt there are others. Still, glass half full, it will certainly hasten consideration of nuclear as a carbon-lite energy source......

James Cameron director of Avatar and the sequel has staff commuting from Weta workshop in Wellywood to California every week, I can tell he must be super serious about global warming. What I admire most about him, is how blind he is to his own hypocrisy.