Leap forward for greenhouse gas research

  • David Carter
Agriculture Budget 2009

The Government has announced it is setting up a greenhouse gas research centre targeting solutions for New Zealand's agriculture and horticulture emissions.

Speaking in Christchurch today, Agriculture Minister David Carter said the centre will play a key role in encouraging the agriculture and horticulture sectors to contribute to New Zealand's emissions reduction targets.

"It is clear that agriculture will be part of New Zealand's emissions reduction efforts, but the sector must have access to effective and affordable technology that doesn't compromise productivity," Mr Carter says.

The centre would be funded through the Primary Growth Partnership, announced in last week's Budget, and would be run through a host provider, most likely a Crown Research Institute or university.

"The Centre for Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research will promote win-win technologies that both reduce emissions, and improve on-farm efficiency and productivity," Mr Carter says.

"New Zealand's understanding of the drivers of ruminant greenhouse gas emissions is increasing all the time. Fonterra has just completed a carbon footprint project which will be invaluable to dairying's efforts to reduce emissions on-farm and in the manufacturing process.

"This, and an earlier study completed by Kiwifruit marketer ZESPRI are key to our primary industries better understanding and developing expertise in their carbon footprint work."

About half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, with methane from ruminant animals the biggest contributor.

The Centre will up and running by 2010.

Background - Centre for Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research
The Centre for Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research will be funded through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), announced in the Budget.

The Centre will be established by next year.

Research Focus
The Centre will focus on GHG mitigation research related to the pastoral, arable, horticulture, poultry and pig sectors including:

  • methane from ruminant animals and waste systems,
  • nitrous oxide from ruminant animals and nitrogen fertiliser, and
  • soil carbon from agriculture and horticulture.

Investment will likely be prioritised by the benefit to New Zealand.

It will not include planted forestry, energy, or biofuels.

The Centre will have stable core funding allocated through the PGP based on a 10-year business plan.

It will be 100 percent Government-funded, with no requirement for industry co-funding, and a commitment to 10 years core-funding, with reviews. This funding structure is intended to give the sector the certainty it needs to undertake long-term research projects.

The Centre, in partnership with the sectors, will also be able to contest further PGP funds, subject to the same criteria and rules of use as other programme proposals under PGP.

Any further applications will require industry co-funding.

Oversight of the Centre will come from the PGP Investment Advisory Panel (IAP), the Director-General of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Chief Executive of Ministry of Research, Science & Technology, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Centre will be run by a host provider, which must:

  • be an existing research provider,
  • have a significant proportion of the current research investment,
  • have the ability to manage large scale programmes,
  • work in partnership with local and international providers to bring the best expertise to New Zealand.

The host provider will be required to produce a 10-year business plan which must be approved by the Director General of MAF, the Chief Executive of MoRST and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade based on recommendations from the IAP.

International Linkages
The research carried out or coordinated by the Centre will have strong links internationally.

In addition, New Zealand has proposed the concept of an international centre for research on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. The Centre for Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research would be a key platform for New Zealand's contribution to such a global effort.

Principles guiding the development of an international centre are currently being developed by the Government along with funding commitments.

The Government is consulting on the initiative with a number of other countries and further details will be announced in coming months.