Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough
Red Meat Sector Conference focuses on opportunities and solutions
The recent Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch reinforced my confidence in our industry and our ability to position ourselves as the world’s most efficient producers of red meat.
Opening speaker Greg Smith, CE of Bremworth Carpet and Rugs Ltd, set the scene for the one-day conference by talking about successful businesses that have seen opportunities in adversity and have had the courage to take a stand on their values.
Included in the four panel discussions held during the conference were bright young people from a range of science and technology backgrounds.
They talked about cutting-edge technologies and innovations that will help our sector meet challenges throughout the supply chain.
These challenges include labour shortages, transport, climate change and regulation.
One of the highlights was a presentation by Dr Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality specialist at UC Davis.
He explained the difference between methane as a flow gas (it is destroyed in the atmosphere) and carbon dioxide as a stock gas (it accumulates) and the inappropriateness of GWP100 as an accounting system for methane.
One of Frank’s quotes was that methane was ‘‘a super pollutant or a super opportunity’’.
He had landed on the latter and stressed the need for appropriate metrics and measuring to enable recognition of this opportunity.
GWP100 overstates the impact of methane on the atmosphere by a factor of 3-4, a fact acknowledged in the IPCC’s 2021 climate change report.
Designed at Oxford University, GWP* looks at the impact of methane on the climate over time and takes into account the shortlived nature of the greenhouse gas.
Like Beef + Lamb NZ, Dr Mitloehner believes it is important to appropriately account for the warming impact of methane by using a metric such as GWP* that is fit for purpose.
He also advocated for countries to report on emissions as well as warming, with is also consistent with B+LNZ’s advocacy.
He reminded the audience that methane losses were energy losses and he called on the sector to work on how to minimise losses not only to be green, but to extract greater production from the same GHG outputs.
Dr Mitloehner stressed that methane reductions should be encouraged so that farmers can be part of the climate solution, but he called on policy makers to incentivise farmers rather than implementing draconian regulations.
In other words, taking a carrot and not a cane approach.
B+LNZ is working hard in the advocacy space to encourage Government to reconsider many of their proposed environmental rules, particularly around biodiversity, sequestration and climate change.
We are working alongside Federated Farmers and DairyNZ on a strategy to tackle the methane reduction targets in the Climate Change Response Amendment Act which will be reviewed in 2024.
While we are not opposed to reductions, these targets are too high and we will be looking to get them revised using the latest science.
We encourage the Government to take the carrot approach and see that our industry can be part of the climate change solution while continuing to generate export revenue from red meat produced with a low carbon footprint.