History & overview of the New Zealand funds

The largest slice of New Zealand’s GHG emissions comes from agriculture (49%), and we know  it’s a sector for which fewer options exist compared to other sectors to substantially reduce emissions without limiting production. Agriculture is a critical part of New Zealand’s economy, creating around 40% of our merchandisable export earnings. Pastoral industries will also be directly affected by climate change in the form of increasing extreme weather conditions such as droughts, changing pasture productivity and pest prevalence.

Adaptability and contributing to he international commitment to limit temperature rise to no more than 2 degree Celsius means we have to continue to invest in high quality science and support systems to help New Zealand farming continue to thrive.

There are two components to reducing agricultural GHGs without constraining total production – improving efficiency on-farm and researching novel solutions to support mitigation.

Without efficiency gains, New Zealand would be looking at total agricultural emissions being almost 40% higher than the current 15% increase in total emissions relative to 1990 (due to increased industry production).

However, while the improved productivity achieved by New Zealand farmers is addressing a significant portion of the emissions problem, it’s not enough to counter the extra GHGs being produced overall.

All of New Zealand’s agricultural GHG research funds were initiated through a specific action and continue to perform a function individually. However, it’s the New Zealand “cogged approach” to GHG research that is resulting in better research, accelerated development of practical solutions and new ideas to help solve New Zealand’s GHG emissions problem.

Use the left navigation to learn more about each fund, its function and partnerships

A brief history


Exploratory research on GHGs 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) is comes into effect (agreed in 1992 in Rio)


strategy for inventory research is developed to strengthen New Zealand’s Greenhouse GasNew Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory is developed. NZ’s first national communication to UNFCCC in 1994; in 1998, NZ’s produced its first annual inventory update.


Kyoto Protocol agreed (NZ 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 Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (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.


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 NZ Government. An MOU is signed.


Kyoto Protocol comes into effect.


The Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Plan of Action announced by MPI including a dedicated research fund (SLMACC) covering adaptation, mitigation, forestry sinks and cross-cutting issues relevant to agriculture and forestry industries.


The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (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 from the PGgRc especially on gases other than methane and provide a strategic direction to overall mitigation research.

The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) is established to find global solutions to mitigate agricultural GHG emissions.

Global 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.


NZAGRC and PGgRc develop a single research programme for New Zealand agricultural ruminant methane emissions research.


The PGgRc and the Crown agree that the PGgRc will commercialise all intellectual property generated by enteric methane vaccine and inhibitor research.

New Zealand 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. As at 22 February 2017, 132 Parties of 197 Parties to the Convention have ratified the agreement – New Zealand signed 5/10/16. New Zealand has pledged to reduce emissions in 2030 by 30% below 2005 emissions (11% below 1990).


There is widespread acceptance that achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement that net long-lived GHG emissions will have to be reduced to zero before 2100 and mitigation is necessary from all sectors and gases to achieve the overall temperature goal.

In 2016, an international paper (Wollenberg et al, 2016) details how the world can address the targets set in Paris and finds that global GHG emissions from agriculture should be reduced by 1 gigatonne in 2030 but less than half of this is possible with current options.