The Government has released its climate change strategy, setting out its approach to how it will deliver on New Zealand’s climate goals. AgResearch chief scientist Axel Heiser gave his reaction, as follows: 

"The Government’s climate strategy(external link) released today rightly points out that the effects of climate change are already being felt. This is evident in the frequency of drought and severe weather events that have impacted the agriculture sector and rural communities.

New Zealand’s primary sector remains the backbone of the New Zealand economy and given it is exposed to the effects of climate change, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment that we need to be working together to reduce those impacts.

Adapting to a changing climate will be critical for our farmers and growers. They will need to be supported to evolve or transition over time to methods and practices that fit the climate they operate in, and what the changing global need is.

Importantly, the strategy also notes that we need to think long-term, which is where sustained investment into research for the agriculture industry is so critical.

Right now there are limited options available to farmers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions without cutting livestock numbers and putting their profitability at risk.

The strategy speaks about the need for technology to lower emissions while lifting productivity. We have evidence this is possible in AgResearch’s work with the sheep industry to breed lower methane emitting animals. Breeders who have already embraced this approach, based on the research, are telling us that they can produce animals that are both productive and less of a burden on the climate.

That longer term commitment is needed in the research and development of tools such as modified pasture, and methane reducing feed additives or vaccines, which are complex and take time. Overseas, greenhouse gas mitigation options are being developed but they won’t necessarily be suited for use in New Zealand’s unique pasture-based farm systems."

**Further science commentary on the climate strategy can be found here(external link)** 

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