A coordinated approach to agricultural greenhouse gas research funding in New Zealand has resulted in better research, accelerated development of practical solutions for farmers, and the emergence of new ideas for reducing emissions.
A brief history
The NZAGRC was established in 2009 as a partnership between the leading New Zealand research providers and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc). From 2009-2019, we received $48.5 million to develop and oversee a research programme focused on novel agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation solutions.
But the NZAGRC’s funding in 2009 was not the start of investment in this area. Funding for research into agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand has evolved in response to international and national developments. Over the years, this funding has come from multiple Government and industry sources.
Exploratory research on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock (noting that GHG emissions reduction as a co-benefit of productivity improvements is signalled in research from the 1950s)
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comes into effect (agreed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory is developed. New Zealand’s first national communication is made to UNFCCC in 1994; in 1998, New Zealand produced its first annual inventory update.
Kyoto Protocol agreed (New Zealand subsequently ratified this agreement in 2002 with target for New Zealand’s net emissions for 2008-2012 to be lowered to the level of absolute emissions in 1990).
The PGgRc is formed under the Government’s Research Consortia initiative to increase rates of innovation and private sector R&D investment, and commences funding methane and nitrous oxide mitigation research.
A strategy for inventory research is developed to strengthen New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory annual update and national communication to the UNFCCC.
Independent government report on mitigation research funding and priorities released (O’Hara et al, 2003). New Zealand agricultural emissions research levy proposed to fund research to help move towards target in the Kyoto Protocol.
New Zealand livestock industry confirms it will continue to invest and coordinate mitigation research through the PGgRc in partnership with the New Zealand Government. An MOU is signed.
Kyoto Protocol comes into effect.
The Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) Plan of Action is announced by MPI, including a dedicated research fund covering adaptation, mitigation, forestry sinks and cross-cutting issues relevant to agriculture and forestry industries.
The NZAGRC is formed as a research coordination centre to further New Zealand’s emissions research working in partnership with the PGgRc. The NZAGRC is intended to complement the work of the PGgRc, especially on gases other than methane, and provide a strategic direction to overall mitigation research.
New Zealand establishes the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) to find global solutions to mitigate agricultural GHG emissions.
The UN climate conference in Copenhagen fails to reach post-Kyoto agreement but provides a pathway for further negotiations to reach a new global agreement.
The New Zealand Government established a dedicated fund to support New Zealand’s contribution to the GRA.
The NZAGRC and the PGgRc develop a single research programme for New Zealand agricultural ruminant methane emissions research.
The PGgRc and the Government agree that the PGgRc will commercialise all intellectual property generated by enteric methane vaccine and inhibitor research.
The Government commits an additional $20 million funding to its contribution to the GRA.
The Paris Agreement sets a global target for limiting temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius. New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement in October 2016 and committed to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 emissions by 2030 (11% below 1990).
The Government passes the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act that, amongst other things, sets long-term domestic reduction targets for New Zealand to:
- Reduce net emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide to zero by 2050
- Reduce emissions of biogenic to 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050, including to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030
The Government, agriculture sector and Iwi/Māori establish a partnership, known as He Waka Eke Noa, aimed at giving farmers and growers the tools and knowledge they need to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. The partnership is tasked with devising and implementing an emissions pricing scheme, at the farm level, by 2025.
The Government commits an additional $48.5 million over six years (ending June 2025) to continue operation of the NZAGRC.
The Government also commits an additional $34 million for the GRA out to 2024.
Read our factsheet [PDF, 1 MB] for more on the history and structure of agricultural greenhouse research funding in New Zealand.