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New Zealand Abandons Proposal to Tax Livestock Emissions

tax livestock burps

New Zealand Introduces Legislation to Exclude Agriculture from Emissions Pricing

New legislation set to be introduced to parliament this month will exempt the agriculture sector from a new emissions pricing plan, announced the New Zealand government.

“Agriculture is a cornerstone of our economy, and we are committed to meeting our climate change obligations while supporting Kiwi farms,” stated Agriculture Minister Todd McClay.

The decision aims to prevent the relocation of jobs and agricultural production overseas, ensuring that New Zealand continues to contribute to global food supply sustainably.

With approximately 10 million cattle and 25 million sheep grazing across the nation, agriculture plays a pivotal role in the New Zealand economy. However, nearly half of the country’s emissions originate from this sector, primarily from methane emitted through cattle burps and flatulence, and nitrous oxide released from livestock urine.

The previous government’s proposal to tax livestock emissions, part of efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, faced widespread opposition. Farmers expressed concerns about potential financial impacts, leading to nationwide protests against the initiative announced in 2022 by then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The new legislative direction reflects a balancing act between environmental goals and economic sustainability, ensuring that New Zealand’s agricultural sector remains competitive while progressing towards climate targets.

New Zealand’s recently elected centre-right government has announced plans to exclude agriculture, animal processors, and fertiliser companies from an emissions pricing scheme scheduled to begin in 2025.

Agriculture Minister emphasized the government’s commitment to supporting farmers in reducing emissions through technological advancements while maintaining production levels and export capacities.

In an effort to address biogenic methane emissions specifically, the government will establish a new “pastoral group.”

The decision has been well-received by farmers, who see it as a positive step towards balancing environmental responsibilities with agricultural viability.

However, environmental groups have strongly criticized the government’s move. They argue that by exempting such a significant source of emissions, the government is neglecting its climate commitments. The decision coincides with the government’s announcement to lift a five-year ban on new oil and gas exploration, further intensifying environmental concerns.

Greens co-leader Chloe Swarbrick expressed disappointment, accusing the government of avoiding responsibility for addressing emissions from agriculture and promoting polluting industries.

Greenpeace echoed these sentiments, describing the government’s actions as a “war on nature” and condemning the disregard for environmental impacts.

Over the weekend, protests erupted in major cities across New Zealand against the government’s broader environmental policy changes, including provisions allowing major infrastructure projects to bypass certain environmental regulations.

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