New Zealand to become carbon neutral by 2050
Proposed legislation has met with mixed reaction from both the farming and environmental lobbies
New Zealand's government has introduced a bill that aims to make the nation mostly carbon neutral by 2050.
The proposed legislation has split both the farming and environmental lobbies - with some of the former group saying the measures are too onerous, while green groups argue it does not go far enough.
Other proposals to tackle climate change include planting a billion trees over 10 years and ensuring the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy by 2035.
The bill would require all greenhouse gases except methane from animals to be reduced to net zero by 2050.
Methane emissions would be reduced by 10pc by 2030 and by between about a quarter and a half by 2050.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said climate change was the biggest single challenge facing the world.
"We know the climate is changing. People can see that," she said.
"This legislation makes a start on tackling climate change because the alternative is the catastrophic cost of doing nothing."
Agriculture is a key source of overseas revenue for New Zealand, which is home to just under five million people but more than 10 million cows and some 28 million sheep.
Those animals emit methane, resulting in an unusual greenhouse gas emission profile for the country, with almost half of total emissions coming from agriculture.
The bill says the lower targets for methane reduction reflect that it stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide.
Tim Ritchie, the chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said meat processors and exporters are alarmed at the targets, which could only be achieved by reducing herds.
"This will impose enormous economic costs on the country and threaten many regional communities who depend on pastoral agriculture," he said.
Meanwhile, Russel Norman, the executive director of Greenpeace in New Zealand, said the bill would have little clout because there was no mechanism to hold anybody to account.
To come into effect, the bill would need to be passed by a majority in the Parliament with a final vote expected later this year.