Climate Change Minister Addresses Scepticism Around Methane Review

Climate Change Minister Addresses Scepticism Around Methane Review

The Government recently announced a methane review with the aim to further understanding around methane science and environmental sustainability.

Simon Watts, the Minister of Climate Change, discusses the government's initiative to conduct a comprehensive review of methane research to inform sound, evidence-based environmental policies. 

Amid debates on the review's necessity and concerns about duplicative efforts, Watts emphasises the urgency for updated science to guide climate strategies, particularly in the context of sustainable farming. Watts responds to scepticism regarding the review's scientific merit and potential political motivations, asserting the importance of independent evaluation. 

"It's really important we do put this issue to bed," referencing the government's commitment made during the election campaign. 

Addressing concerns about redundancy, Watts clarifies that the review is distinct from the Climate Change Commission's work as it considers "the concept of no net additional warming," which is not currently covered by legislation. 

A key point of the discussion centres on the interplay between environmental goals and agricultural productivity. Watts acknowledges the critical economic role of the primary sector and the global interest in New Zealand's approach, given its unique reliance on pastoral farming. 

"We want to make sure we've got the best system here that drives down emissions," Watts explains, highlighting the need for a balanced strategy that doesn't merely shift production and emissions to less efficient countries. 

Regarding targets, Watts references the existing goal of reducing methane emissions by 24 to 47% by 2050. He notes the farming community's openness to act based on scientific evidence, while also recognising the risks of presenting data that only supports a predetermined stance. 

"The integrity and the credibility of the panel... [and] the best available science around the globe," he asserts, are vital to the review's success. 

Watts' vision encompasses not only climate concerns but broader economic objectives.

"Our climate issues are economic issues." 

Finally, he discusses his upcoming trip to Southeast Asia with the Prime Minister, aimed at revitalising business relationships and signalling New Zealand's readiness to engage in international trade. 

The conversation sheds light on the complexities of balancing climate policy with economic realities, the significance of rigorous and current scientific research, and the proactive steps being taken by the New Zealand government to address methane emissions within the context of global environmental challenges.

Listen to the full chat between Simon Watts and Dominic George above.

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