From 2025, farmers in New Zealand may have to pay taxes on the sheep and cows they own. 26 million sheep and 9.7 million cows live alongside the 5 million people tin New Zealand. These 36 million animals release methane when they burp, causing a large amount of methane to enter our atmosphere.

New Zealand’s farming practices account for almost half of the whole country’s greenhouse gas emissions and the methane emitted from their cows and sheep equates to roughly 82% of the country’s methane emissions. Although it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for as long as carbon dioxide, the gas’s effect on global warming is around 80% higher.

The country’s Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, has plans for the government to fund initiatives to tackle climate change and cut down the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The government has committed to spending £1.5 billion to carry out these initiatives. They have also decided that this money will come from the tax they will put on polluters and this tax system is set to begin in 2025.

The call for these initiatives came from the criticism the country received regarding how little they were doing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and in previous years the emissions emitted from agricultural processes were exempt from the overall totals. James Shaw, the country’s Climate Change Minister, states that “There is no question that we need to cut the amount of methane we are putting into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key part in how we achieve that”.

If the country’s new tax system and the initiatives that are planned are successful, the country should see a major reduction in the amount of methane released and also a reduction in their carbon footprint.