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Call for new land uses to combat emissions

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/10/2016

New Zealanders have been urged to begin making a gradual transition to new land uses, including new types of food, in response to global warming.

Dr Suzi Kerr, from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, says that would benefit farmers, rural communities as well as the climate.

"On land where sheep and cows continue to be grazed, we need to move toward low emission practices including new technologies as they become available," she said.

"Our long term goal on that land is to produce ultra low emission dairy and red meat."

Dr Kerr was commenting on Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright's report into the problem of greenhouse gases from the rural sector.

She described the document as a "clear, careful presentation of the different aspect of the science in this complex area" and said she agreed with all the suggested actions.

Agriculture accounts for almost half of the country's greenhouse gases.

New Zealand has signed up to the Paris climate change agreement, which commits it to reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Dr Wright highlighted the need for a range of options - including planting more trees - rather than a single bullet.

New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre director Harry Clark said the report provided a highly accessible summary of potential solutions.

"More importantly, though, it concludes by considering the next steps: How can we collectively ensure that our science can be adopted to the benefit of the country and the climate?"

Professor Louis Schipper, of Waikato University, said the problem and the science were "eloquently described" in the report and the text "rigourous and accessible".

"This report clearly lays out the case that New Zealand's rather unique greenhouse gas emissions require bespoke solutions."

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