With 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep in the country, agriculture already accounts for half of New Zealand’s emissions and over 90 percent of its biogenic emissions of methane.
New Zealand is planning to tax its farmers for the farts and burps that their cows produce. The government’s new climate-related proposal is aimed at tackling the growing greenhouse emissions from the country’s agricultural sector. The new tax would be one of the firsts in the world to tax agricultural emissions.
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“This is an important step forward in New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions future and delivers on our promise to price agriculture emissions from 2025,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
While emissions from cows and sheep may not sound alarming, cattle are the biggest source of methane emissions in the agricultural industry. With 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep in the country, agriculture already accounts for half of New Zealand’s emissions and over 90 percent of its biogenic emissions of methane.
Though present for a shorter period of time in the atmosphere, methane is a dangerously potent greenhouse gas which is 80x more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping heat on the planet. In fact, all the cows on the planet are more dangerous to the environment for the next 20 years than all the cars combined.
But farmers are not keen on paying extra taxes for their flatulent cows. Condemning the proposed plan, Federated Farmers said that the plan would "rip the guts out of small town New Zealand" resulting in farms being abandoned for trees. Federated Farmers are the main industry group of farmers in the country.
“Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now, they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the cute as they drive off,” said Andrew Hoggard, President of Federated Farmers.
But the government promises that the money raised through these taxes will be reintroduced into the farming sector “through new technology, research and incentive payments to farmers.” The New Zealand government is already undertaking research to make cows less gassy.
Additionally, the incentives will help New Zealand’s farmers become carbon neutral while increasing their profitability and productivity, the government added.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)