Why was CNN in Palmerston North? Methane!

It’s a rare event that brings a CNN news crew to New Zealand – an America’s Cup campaign or a Lord of the Rings launch usually.

Or in this case a disrupted flight schedule which prevented the crew from heading to its intended destination – Chile. So the newly formed Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre was lucky enough to have CNN reporter Dan Rivers and crew present for its big launch in Palmerston North today.

The presence of the global news broadcaster was quite appropriate given that the centre’s work will feed into international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The Global Research Alliance launched at Copenhagen was, said Prime Minister John Key today at the launch, one of the few highlights of the COP15 conference with 20 countries signing up to work together on agricultural emissions.

New Zealand has pledged $45 million towards the initiative and research programmes coordinated through the AGGRC will be one of the key New Zealand contributions to the alliance.

Interestingly, John Key reiterated today that technological breakthroughs that the Global Research Alliance might come up with will be given to developing countries so they too can take advantage of them.

The AGGRC is headed by Dr Harry Clark, formerly an Agresearch scientist who will coordinate research programmes with partners that include Agresearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, Massey University, NIWA, Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Plant & Food Research and Scion.

Harry Clark has had to move fast to pull the centre together – the sods of grass outside the centre’s modest head office on the Massey campus were laid just last week. Effectively, all the research will be done in the labs it is currently carried out in around the country. What will be important is the additional funding available for research – $5 million of direct government funding each year for the next 10 years. No details of what projects will be funded have yet been released, but you can expect some of the projects outlined here will be getting a funding top-up.

The PM launches the AGGRC in front of various suits and a CNN crew
The PM launches the AGGRC in front of various suits and a CNN crew

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