Centre to give NZ top research role

A new research centre in Palmerston North will allow New Zealand to lead the world in cutting agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister John Key believes.

He was speaking at the opening of the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Research Centre at the AgResearch Grasslands campus yesterday. The "clock was ticking" on finding a global solution to climate change, and cutting methane and nitrous oxide emissions was one area in which New Zealand could lead the world, he said.

"We have the opportunity to pool our expertise with both developed and developing countries in order to find the most credible solutions to this pressing global issue."

The centre is a partnership between AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, Massey University, Niwa, Plant & Food Research, the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and Crown research institute Scion.

Centre director Harry Clark said it would bring together key scientists and have an "over-arching mandate" to fund and co-ordinate greenhouse gas research.

"New Zealand science in the past has unfortunately competed – that's been the model that was set up," Dr Clark said.

"What we have here is nine partners who came together to tackle an issue of national and international importance."

Dr Clark said the centre would also be the point of contact with the Global Research Alliance – an initiative born out of climate change talks in Copenhagen with more than 20 member countries.

Kiwis would be affected by its research in more ways than one, Dr Clark said.

"Our economy depends on agriculture and we could – if we don't tackle the problem – face potential trade barriers.

"So what we're doing here has an influence on all New Zealanders, even though they may not fully understand that it goes beyond the headline of reducing cow farts."

The Government will invest $50 million in the centre, funded from the Primary Growth Partnership – a government-industry fund for research that boosts economic growth in the primary and food sectors.

Mr Key said the Government was committed to supporting agricultural greenhouse gas research. Science funding in general would increase in this year's budget. The first meeting of the alliance will be held at the centre in April. Project details will also be announced then.

The Dominion Post