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New Zealand proposes to tax farmers for livestock burps

  • Published
    10th Jun, 2022

According to a new draft plan brought out by the government and farm representatives, New Zealand will tax burps by cattle and sheep in order to tackle one of its biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Farmers whose farms produce gas will be taxed from 2025.
  • Incentives to farmers: Those farmers who reduce emissions through feed additives.
  • They can also use on-farm forestry to offset emissions.

Why such step?

  • New Zealand has more cattle and sheep than people — 10 million and 26 million respectively as against 5 million people.
  • It is a large agricultural exporter, with nearly half of its emissions, mainly methane, coming from agriculture.
  • The country had not taxed its emissions from agriculture till now. The latest plan, if implemented, will make New Zealand the first country in this respect.
  • Methane, or CH4 is one of the primary greenhouse gases, along with carbon dioxide or CO2. Methane in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2019

How is methane emitted?

  • Around 40% of CH4 comes from natural sources such as wetlands but the bigger share now comes from a range of human activities, ranging from agriculture, such as cattle and rice production, to rubbish dumps.
  • One of the biggest sources is from the production, transport and use of natural gas and since 2008 there has been a big spike in methane emissions, which researchers believe is linked to the boom in fracking for gas in parts of the US.
  • In 2019, methane in the atmosphere reached record levels, around two-and-a-half times above what they were in the pre-industrial era.
  • Methane has real muscle when it comes to heating the planet. Over a 100-year period it is 28-34 times as warming as CO2.
  • Over a 20-year period it is around 84 times as powerful per unit of mass as carbon dioxide.
  • However, there is much more CO2 than methane in the atmosphere and individual molecules of it can remain there for hundreds of years.
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