Eva Deschamps / October 12, 2022
Gases emitted by New Zealand’s 6.2 million cows are among the country’s biggest environmental problems
You can tax (almost) anything. The proof is in New Zealand, where the government unveiled plans on Tuesday to tax greenhouse gas emissions from livestock as part of a proposal to combat climate change. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the tax would be the first of its kind in the world.
Natural gases emitted by New Zealand’s 6.2 million cows are among the country’s biggest environmental problems. Under the program, farmers would pay for their animals’ emissions of gases such as methane from cow farts and burps, and nitrous oxide from cattle urine.
Jacinda Ardern told farmers that they should be able to get their money back, by raising the prices of their climate-friendly products. She called it a “realistic proposal”, arguing that it would reduce agricultural emissions while making products more environmentally friendly, thus strengthening New Zealand’s “export brand ».
The government hopes to have its proposal signed by next year, and the tax could be introduced in three years.
But with New Zealand’s elections just 15 months away, the plan could cost Jacinda Ardern rural ballots, as farmers have been quick to condemn the plan. Andrew Hoggard, president of the Federated Farmers lobby, said the plan would “rip the guts out of small towns in New Zealand. He said the tax could encourage farmers to grow trees on fields currently used for livestock.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand, which represents the country’s sheep and cattle farmers, says the plan ignores rural measures already in place to combat greenhouse gases. “New Zealand farmers have more than 1.4 million hectares of primeval forest on their land that absorbs carbon,” said Andrew Morrison, president of the group.