2009-03-26

Great Danes show the way on emissions trading

“Denmark is showing the way for New Zealand to follow on emissions trading by ditching its proposed tax on farm animal emissions,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

In February, the Danish Tax Commission had proposed to levy DKK 600 (NZ$191.83) per cow. If this was applied to the entire New Zealand dairy and beef herd, it would represent a net cost to the New Zealand agricultural industry of around NZ$1.85 billion. Put another way, the loss is greater than New Zealand’s entire exports to the United Kingdom, our fifth largest trading partner.

“Federated Farmers has repeatedly asked our politicians to take a global view. Federated Farmers doesn’t support agriculture in an emissions trading scheme,” Mr Nicolson continued.

“Some politicians seem to think climate change begins and ends with New Zealand, but climate change is a global issue needing global solutions.

“New Zealand’s farmers get that by being the world’s most efficient producers. We can feed almost one percent of the world’s population off the back of only a tenth of that in emissions. That’s how good New Zealand’s farmers really are.

“If farm animal emissions were included in the emissions trading scheme, New Zealand products would be priced out of markets while less efficient producers would take our place. That would turn the ETS into an efficiency transfer scheme and we would all be poorer for it while seeing global emissions increase.

“The Danish Government has grasped this reality by saying no and seeking a response to emissions without putting its agricultural sector to the sword. The time has come for National and Labour to bury the hatchet and reach a cross party consensus to the same end.

“What Denmark is saying with this decision is that the international competitiveness of food production is something countries need to secure in a world which sees some 800 million people living in food poverty.

“This makes it very important for the New Zealand negotiating team in Bonn next week to put the case for excluding farm animal emissions from the Copenhagen negotiations, a potential successor to the Kyoto Treaty,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

According to the Copenhagen Post of 17 February 2009, both the Danish Government’s Liberal Party and the Danish People’s Party (DF) voiced opposition to any farm animal methane tax. The Danish People’s Party Jørn Dohrmann said,

“While the agricultural industry should contribute to solving the climate problems, a methane tax should not be levied in a way that does not make sense. It will be a catastrophe for Danish production, giving products from other countries free rein,” said Dohrmann.

Tina Nedegaard, of the Danish Liberal Party added that a tax should not be levelled on the Danish agricultural industry that would make it anti-competitive:

“I am not in total agreement with the proposal for the simple reason that cows need to break wind, whereas machines do not have to pollute,” said Nedegaard.

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