National wants to convert farms into pine forests | The Jackal

14 Jun 2021

National wants to convert farms into pine forests

It really hasn’t been a good time on the opposition benches lately. Not only have we had the various National Party scandals to ensure a decline in their public support, they’ve also entirely misread the room when it comes to the Climate Change Commission’s final report and the Government’s Clean Car Policy.

There is now a somewhat robust pathway to slash emissions so that New Zealand can become carbon neutral by 2050. Of course the right wing don’t like it, mainly because most of them are climate change deniers.

Everybody else on the other hand knows that New Zealand needs to start pulling its weight when it comes to climate change mitigation. While the opposition flails about with arguments that often make no logical or scientific sense, the Government is getting on with it.

The right wing’s attempt to score political points over climate change, by essentially advocating for a do nothing approach, looks even more ludicrous in the wake of recent flooding. Many farmers will understand that these huge consecutive storms are linked to climate change and with their industry dependent on a sustainable future, will hopefully realise that supporting the Government to reduce emissions is the way to go. This would also seem to put farmers at odds with the National Party. 

National is claiming that the ETS, which has been made largely ineffectual by numerous amendments, can get us to net zero by 2050 all by itself. The thing they aren’t telling people, including farmers who are purported to be core supporters, is that around 400,000 hectares of farmland would need to be converted into pine forests for their ETS only plan to work.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the planting of trees to mitigate the effects of climate change, but this is something that the National Party campaigned against in the lead up to the last election. The other issue here is that New Zealand doesn’t need more pine forests than we can ever hope to utilise, especially when we haven’t even got our wilding pines under control.

The Climate Change Commission's report stated that the ETS wouldn’t deliver a desirable low emissions future even if it was increased to $50. The ‘unconstrained removals’ scenario would come close to meeting net zero by 2050 but mean a very small reduction in gross long-lived GHG emissions.

This would also encourage more exotic forests than NZ could ever hope to process or sell overseas.

So if the National Party’s submission to the Climate Change Commission is to be believed, I wonder if Judith Collins has informed her farming friends that National wants to take over their farms with pine forests?