This is a report about a different approach to framing New Zealand’s long-term climate change targets and policies and what that could mean for our landscapes. It is, in particular, about how we might deal with our agricultural greenhouse gases and our forest sinks in a joined up way and deal with fossil carbon dioxide emissions separately.
Parliament is about to debate legislation that will set down a long-term emissions reduction target for New Zealand. Long term in this case means 2050. That would require agreeing to a target that can outlast the parliamentary careers of almost anyone currently elected to the House of Representatives. The framework that is established will cast a long shadow.
Meeting our long-term targets will require policies and innovations that have yet to be crafted. This is especially true for biological emissions from agriculture, which are to be addressed for the first time. Aotearoa New Zealand’s landscapes have endured two centuries of upheaval. How we frame our targets with respect to biological sources and sinks will write the next chapter of landscape transformation.