N.Z. Says Agriculture Exempt From Emissions Plan Through 2015

New Zealand will keep agricultural carbon emissions out of its carbon trading plan until at least 2015 to reduce costs on the nation’s producers, Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said.

“The government remains committed to doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it is worth noting that we are the only country outside Europe with a comprehensive emissions trading scheme,” Groser said in an e-mailed statement today. “In these times of uncertainty, the government has opted not to pile further costs on to households and the productive sector.”

The government’s amendments to its plan follow a review begun in 2011, and also include maintaining a cap on the price companies will face if carbon costs begin to rise internationally. Prime Minister John Key undertook the review because the original schedule wasn’t being matched by other nations with whom New Zealand competes in export markets.

Much of New Zealand’s carbon emissions are from farm animals, so inclusion of agriculture in the plan would have pushed up costs for farmers, who are already paying more for fuel and energy after the plan was applied to those industries in mid-2010.

Applying more costs on agriculture in New Zealand would undermine the nation’s competitiveness, Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s biggest dairy exporter, said in a statement. Overseas sales of dairy products make up a quarter of all exports, which in turn comprise 30 percent of the economy.

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