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Agricultural uncertainty persists for Australia, NZ

- Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Despite recent meetings between the Australian and New Zealand Governments, the uncertainty surrounding the future role of the agriculture in the emission trading schemes of both nations remains very uncertain.

NZ Climate Change Minister Nick Smith and Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong held a joint press conference at the conclusion of the recent Australia New Zealand Climate Change and Business conference. The transcript of the conference reveals that there is a strong desire to harmonise the schemes of both nations and that the treatment of agriculture will obviously be a major issue. How this may play out will be made a little clearer in the next few weeks when the NZ Select Committee makes it's recommendations about amendments to the current NZ legislation.

Exactly what NZ plans for it's agriculture sector is not clear - as the following exchange between a journalist and the NZ Climate Change Minister highlights; 

JOURNALIST: Nick Smith, you have indicated that it is not really a problem if agriculture comes into the New Zealand scheme ahead of its possible inclusion in Australia. Why is that the case?

SMITH: Well, the linkages of the schemes does not necessarily mean that any particular sector, agriculture or any other, has to come in on exactly the same date. The New Zealand-Australian context is a bit different in that regard and so agriculture is such a huge part of the New Zealand emissions profile that you effectively have the other sectors of the economy carrying them if it is deferred for too long. But I should not understate how complex it is to bring ruminant animal emissions into an emission trading scheme. It would be fair to say that the new Government has a more cautious view of attempting that; we would be the first Government in the world that has attempted that task. And we need to be very confident that we can technically make it work before we would want to include it in the New Zealand emissions trading scheme.

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