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Feds: No reason for ‘carbon guilt’ over NZ meat, milk

Federated Farmers is worried New Zealanders simply don’t understand how much better we are at low-emissions farming than other countries.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report ( download here) on Climate Change and Land, released last night, discusses the available science around the implications of changing land use and its impact on climate change.

"What the report doesn’t do, is tell people to stop eating meat and dairy. In fact it says the opposite. It highlights the value of a low-emissions diet, which includes protein from animal products.

"But listening to the media stories on this report in New Zealand today, you’d think that was all it focused on," Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The report says: "Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change".

"We are starting to get really worried at Feds that New Zealanders are thinking that our best way out of our climate change dilemma is to cut back on farming animals.

"This simply isn’t the case. This is not the way to alleviate our ‘carbon guilt’. What we should be doing is trying to figure out how we get the rest of the world to farm like we do."

The report highlights the impact deforestation is having around the world, where countries are essentially swapping native forest for food cultivation.

"This means those countries are trying to prioritise feeding their own people. And that’s being done at the expense of the environment,'" Hoggard says.

"Here in New Zealand, we have the opposite issue. We are arguing about where to plant more trees, not where to cut them down.

"Only 10% of our food production feeds our own people. We are essential to the diets of many people, in many other countries. And we do it in an extremely emissions-efficient way."


Note to editors

- See accompanying graph.

- Reports commissioned by Beef & Lamb NZ show the production of 1kg of NZ beef generates 22kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (a unit of greenhouse gases that includes methane and nitrous oxide), and 1kg of lamb generates 19kg of CO2-e. That compares with global medians of 26.6kg for 1kg of beef and 25.6kg of CO2-e for 1kg of lamb.

- In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, NZ dairy is one third to one half better than is achieved in most other countries. So much so that it is better for the climate to drink a glass of New Zealand milk in Europe than consuming the locally subsidised product, despite the export distance.

- Federated Farmers also notes (page 147, Chapter 6) that the report says global methane emissions need to decrease by 11.7% by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Federated Farmers says this is close to the 10% by 2050 methane target we put to the Select Committee hearing Zero Carbon Bill submissions this week, certainly much closer than the government's proposed 24-47% target .


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