Weekend Sun column

Friday, December 4, 2015

This weekend I will be travelling to Paris to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference to join Trade and Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser. Prime Minister John Key has already been in France and spoken at the Conference, talking about the strong contribution New Zealand is making to the international effort to address climate change.

New Zealand faces some unique challenges when it comes to reducing our emissions. Around half of our emissions come from agriculture, and it is very difficult to reduce these emissions without cutting food production. This is why in 2009 New Zealand formed the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which looks at ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions

The Alliance now has 46 member countries and has produced some very promising research. The Prime Minister announced in his address that we would be committing an extra $20 million in funding to capitalise on some of this new research to reduce methane emissions.

On the topic of agriculture, I was as shocked and appalled as you at the footage of the mistreatment of bobby calves. Animal welfare is an issue that I personally feel very strongly about. Clearly the actions of these workers is unacceptable. The Ministry of Primary Industries commenced an investigation as soon as they received the footage and I know that the Minister, Nathan Guy, is treating this matter very seriously.

New Zealand has a strong and proud history of animal welfare. Budget 2015 allocated another $10 million to strengthen our animal welfare systems, and earlier this year we passed the Animal Welfare Act to improve the clarity and enforceability of the existing animal welfare laws.

This is my last column for the year. I am looking forward to spending some quality time with my family and I hope you all have the opportunity to make the most of what the Bay of Plenty has to offer over the holiday season.