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Surging emissions show NZ needs stronger action on climate

Thursday, April 11: New data released today showing that New Zealand’s emissions have continued to grow rapidly in 2017 have been called "disturbing" by Greenpeace.

Executive Director, Russel Norman, says the just-released Greenhouse Gas Inventory is another red flag that action to cut New Zealand’s climate emissions has never been more urgent.

The Inventory shows New Zealand’s gross emissions increased 2.2% between 2016 and 2017, and have increased by 23% between 1990 and 2017.

"It’s disturbing that although we know that we need to be cutting our emissions at a rapid rate, these figures are showing the opposite," says Norman.

"The world now has just a decade to cut carbon emissions in half to avoid climate catastrophe. We’re already feeling the effects here in New Zealand, with extreme weather events like the Nelson fires, the recent storms, floods and droughts."

Norman says the Jacinda Ardern-led Government has made some decisions of international significance on climate that should be applauded, including the decision to stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits. However, he says this doesn’t go far enough.

"This Government is also making some terrible decisions on climate change. The decision to extend the oil and gas exploration permits of oil companies OMV and NZOG so that they could be exploring for oil for decades to come is particularly problematic," he says.

"The world can’t afford to burn even half of the fossil fuel reserves we know about without reaching a climate tipping point. Allowing companies to search for new oil is immoral."

The Greenhouse Gas Inventory also shows an increase in emissions coming from fossil fuel electricity generation, particularly gas.

Norman says this is why the Government should rapidly roll out an energy transition plan, including huge increases in solar, wind, and batteries to create and store renewable energy to electrify transport and industrial processes.

"The failure of the Government to do anything meaningful on agricultural emissions while continuing to subsidise them to the tune of a billion dollars a year is also a huge disappointment," he says.

"As the Inventory points out, a doubling of the dairy herd and a 650% increase in synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use from 1990 to 2017 has driven a surge in emissions from the agricultural sector.

"We have too many cows polluting too many rivers and the climate. The Government needs to cap and reduce cow numbers with urgency as well as move to ban the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser."

Norman says the Government’s much lauded Zero Carbon Act is shaping up as a "pretty timid" response.

"From what we hear they will be setting emission reduction targets thirty years away, overseen by a climate commission with no powers to enforce the targets. This is not an approach that is consistent with the urgency of the climate emergency."


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