Why do New Zealanders care about agricultural emissions?

Published: 2012

Authors: Hugh McDonald, Suzi Kerr

Agricultural emissions account for more than 46.5% of New Zealand's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 13.5% of global GHG emissions. Excluding agriculture from global mitigation commitments has been shown to increase the cost of containing warming to 2ºC by as much as 15-50%.

Clearly, the question of what response will effectively address these emissions is critically important to New Zealand and the world. However, as the above quotations illustrate, current views on what shape that response should take are polarised. This polarisation may have been exacerbated by the government's initial framing of the emissions trading scheme as a response to a specific international obligation under Kyoto, a motivation that seems less salient since the Durban conference.

Designing agricultural emissions policy will require balancing these views, and the views of all other New Zealanders, whose aims for agricultural emissions policy may bring in further dimensions. Implicitly, this involves optimising a social welfare function that considers the aims and motivations of all New Zealanders.

This article contributes to the agricultural emissions policy discussion by stepping back and considering these underlying motivations: why do individuals, communities, companies and government in New Zealand care about how agricultural emissions are addressed?



McDonald, Hugh, and Suzi Kerr. 2012. "Why do New Zealanders care about agricultural emissions?" Policy Quarterly, 8:2, pp. 29-36.