04 December, 2018

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint.

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

Alison Howard, Head of Sustainability at Meridian Energy, is welcoming the release of the calculator.

“We know a lot of our farming customers are going to a lot of effort to run their operations in a sustainable way, and are worried how a zero carbon target for the country might affect them.

“This calculator gives them a quick way to find out their impacts. We know farmers are always looking for ways to contribute positively to the future of New Zealand and this is just a small way we thought we could help.”

Westpac NZ Head of Commercial and Agribusiness, Mark Steed, wants farmers to know that they are supported in making better choices, both for their farms and the country.

“We know farmers care about climate change. Farming is a long-term business and the changing climate is already having an impact.

“We hope this easy way to calculate their farm’s carbon footprint will help them make decisions and guide the sustainable development of their business.”

Both Meridian and Westpac NZ are hopeful that the government’s proposed Zero Carbon Bill will receive bi-partisan support.

“A Zero Carbon Bill that has the support of both sides of parliament is the best way forward for business – giving certainty as to what the future holds in terms of legislation,” says Howard.

The greenhouse gas calculator was originally prepared in 2008 to better inform the Food Miles debate.

It has now been updated to give farmers a quick approximation of their carbon footprint; it is not intended to replace detailed greenhouse gas modelling tools.

As carbon can be a very abstract concept, the calculator compares a farm’s greenhouse gas emissions to the distance travelled in a car, or the area that could be planted to offset their emissions.

Andrew Barber, Managing Director of Agrilink NZ states “Owners of a variety of farm types can use this calculator, including horticulture for example, where farmers may not have access to detailed carbon footprint tools.

“They, like all farmers, can enter their energy use, as well as that of their contractors, to better understand their carbon footprint.”