New Zealand farmers have been given five years to lower their carbon emissions before the government introduces additional taxes. This policy change, announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden on the 24th October, will likely significantly contribute to New Zealand achieving its net-zero carbon by 2050 commitment.
Food and land use systems contribute to roughly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions: reforming agriculture is necessary if we are to limit global heating to 1.5°C. However, farming is a critical industry in New Zealand and Arden’s ambitious climate targets have been met with hostility.
Farmers, particularly in the dairy sector, say that the government’s climate action plans are not economically viable. Defending the plans, Arden said, “For too long politicians have passed the buck and caused uncertainty for everyone while the need for climate action was clear.”
While this sentiment is needed if we are to lower greenhouse gas emissions, financial penalties inevitably disproportionately affect the poorest. This is not the first tax imposed on New Zealand’s farmers in the name of climate action, either.
New Zealand needs a just transition that will allow them to achieve their ambitious climate targets in a fair and equitable way, ensuring farmers livelihoods are not compromised in a low-carbon economy.