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Looming global food shortage highlights NZ’s role in climate action

As a significant global food supplier, changes in New Zealand food systems may soon have substantial impacts.

New Zealand can feed 40 million people, or five percent of the diet of 800 million people with high quality food, AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell says.

However, the food supply impact from the Ukrainian war shows how production changes in one region or country impacts on others, he says.

Global food prices continue to strengthen as shortages loom for basic foods such as grains. This means there will also be a shortage of carbohydrates to feed livestock, ANZ research says.

“While this won’t directly impact New Zealand food production systems, it will impact our competitors who rely on grain to produce beef and milk,” O’Connell says.

“These impacts show how our global food systems are interconnected. A change in one part of the system will impact others, often with unintended consequences.

“The global food system is made up of makers and takers and changes in how food comes from makers will force takers to source elsewhere, there are always mouths to feed.

“New Zealand production systems need to reduce their emissions and any changes in the food supply capability will need to be backfilled from some other system.

“This could be a worse climate outcome for Aotearoa and the planet. So, if our intent is to positively impact the climate, we have to think at a global scale and consider the net emissions result, not just local optimisation.

“Agritech’s role is to make the improvements and efficiencies necessary to both reduce emissions and continue producing.

“New Zealand needs to have a global impact on this issue because there is no such thing as a local atmospheric greenhouse. That means we need innovations to enable change here in New Zealand and in other markets.

“It is only by addressing that larger problem that we will enable the best technologies, through bigger scale and investment.”

This month, He Waka Eke Noa delivered its recommendations for pricing agricultural emissions. The government is expected to formally adopt these recommendations in December.

Earlier in June, the Emissions Reduction Plan included an announcement to develop a Centre for Climate Action to commercialise critical emissions reduction technologies. The scene is being set for New Zealand’s contribution locally and globally.

For further information contact Brendan O’Connell on 021 369740 or NZTech’s media specialist Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

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