New Zealand has a strange problem at hand – burping livestock. For a rather unusual issue, it has an unusual solution. The country has unveiled a plan to tax sheep and cattle burps.
Why is New Zealand taxing burps?
When these animals burp, they release methane. And the plan has been put into place to tackle this source of greenhouse gases, one of the country’s biggest.
New Zealand will be the first country in the world to tax farmers for the methane emissions from their livestock if the draft plan becomes a law.
How bad can it really be?
The human population of New Zealand is five million. But it has around 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.
And nearly half of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from farming, mainly in the form of methane.
How harmful is methane?
Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Over a 100-year period it is 28 to 34 times as warming as CO2.
More than 85 per cent of New Zealand’s total methane emissions come from animal stomachs and manure. In cows, 95 per cent of the methane is exhaled, while five per cent is emitted via flatulence, reports Sky News.
In 2019, methane in the atmosphere reached record levels, around two-and-a-half times above what they were in the pre-industrial era, according to a BBC report.
What’s the plan?
The plan proposes that farmers will have to pay for emissions from 2025. It also includes incentives for farmers who reduce emissions through feed additives. Planting more trees on farms can help. The tax collected will be put into research and development which will benefit farmers.
“Our recommendations enable sustainable food and fibre production for future generations while playing a fair part in meeting our country’s climate commitments,” said Michael Ahie, chair of the primary sector partnership, He Waka Eke Noa.
New Zealand has vowed to reach the net-zero target by 2050 and this plan to tax livestock belches is part of a bigger initiative. The country has a roadmap for the energy, transportation, waste and job sectors which begin in 2025 to fight climate change.
Climate change minister James Shaw said that an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture is one of the key tools to cutting the amount of methane.
“There is no question that we need to cut the amount of methane we are putting into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key part in how we achieve that,” Shaw told Reuters.
What are farmers saying?
Andrew Hoggard, a dairy farmer and the national president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand, told the BBC that he broadly approved of the proposals “We’ve been working with the government and other organisations on this for years to get an approach that won’t shut down farming in New Zealand, so we’ve signed off on a lot of stuff we’re happy with.”
Source : First Post : June 10th 2022