The AgDialogue group operated within the context of a polarised public debate over whether, when and how agricultural emissions should be included in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.

The participants were purposely selected from a range of relevant groups, including farmers, farm industry groups, Māori, NGOs, and local and central government. The experts who helped inform the dialogue were from Motu and other reputable organisations including GNS Science, Infometrics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NIWA and Lincoln University.

Cows2The dialogue included seven half-day meetings at Motu offices in Wellington, and three two-day retreats at different locations in the North Island. The half-day meetings were mainly technical in nature, and the retreats focussed on deeper discussion by the participants.

Material covered in the meetings included

  • climate science,
  • mitigation options for agriculture,
  • monitoring,
  • emissions trading and other policy options,
  • wider economic considerations for the agricultural sector,
  • farmer behaviour and behaviour change,
  • cooperation,
  • technology uptake, and
  • fairness.

Through an intensive dialogue process we aimed to deepen Motu’s, and the group’s, thinking. By creating a politically acceptable and sustainable policy that is effective at reducing GHG emissions, we hope that New Zealand’s experience can help lead to better agricultural emissions policy globally.

From the understanding we gained through the dialogue group, the three key messages for agricultural emissions in New Zealand are:

  1. be explicit about wider objectives – not just local emission reductions;
  2. engage a wide range of actors – this is not just an issue for government; and
  3. build concern, capability and contracting (incentives) simultaneously, with more emphasis on concern and capability while New Zealand’s response evolves.

More information on the outcomes and work of this group can be found in the Motu Note: Tackling Agricultural Emissions: Potential Leadership from a Small Country.

Other related material:

More recently we have followed up this work with a paper for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.