Industry representative Dairy NZ says developing new technologies will be key to meeting the Climate Commission’s “steep” methane reduction targets.
It comes as the independent Climate Change Commission yesterday released its first draft report detailing the reduction in greenhouse gases New Zealand will need to achieve each year to meet its 2050 emissions target of 50 per cent below 1990 levels.
The report says the Government's current policies don't put the country on track to meet its existing 2050 target.
It proposed an immediate reduction in methane, reducing emissions to 1.09 tonnes by 2035, instead of 1.21 tonnes under current projections. It wants to bring down biogenic methane by nearly 16 per cent by 2035.
The Commission recommended slashing livestock numbers by about 15 per cent by 2030.
Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the sector will see what it can do to meet the Commission’s ambitions.
He says while science says it’s possible, “there are also other considerations. You’ve got economic, you’ve got social, you’ve got political issues too”.
Mackle points to an AgResearch peer-reviewed paper released last week that finds the New Zealand dairy sector has the lowest carbon footprint of the 18 countries it looked at, which included the US, the Netherlands and Denmark. The research was commissioned by Dairy NZ.
“The potential to drop even further is not as great as a country who is less efficient,” Mackle said.
He says the sector has already been investing in research and development for at least 20 years.
“We’ve studied what happens on the farm. Some farms have a lot of potential still, some farms have very little because they’re highly efficient.”
Mackle says the sector was looking into new developments in vaccines, seaweeds and additives.
Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr says Kiwi farmers were “some of the most innovative … in the world”, meaning changes may come at a slower pace.
But, he said there were breeding and feeding methods that could reduce methane without reducing output. For example, Kiwi farmers knew how to breed sheep that emitted lower levels of methane.