Greenpeace has welcomed key parts of the Climate Change Commission's report, but says the ambition falls short of "transformational" and continues a long tradition of giving the dairy industry a "free pass to pollute".
The report details recommendations that New Zealand will need to take in order to reduce emissions and tackle the climate crisis.
But Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel says the Commission’s recommendations for cutting climate pollution from agriculture, which is responsible for half of New Zealand’s emissions, fall short.
"The Climate Change Commission’s draft plan seems more anxious about maintaining the status quo than biting the bullet in the existential crisis of our time. It effectively says ‘We can only save the planet so long as we don’t have to produce one kilo less milk or meat by 2035’. That ain’t transformation," says Abel.
"The recommendations are still stuck on price and market tools, tinkering, sending messages, researching, "breeding and feeding," and industry tech-fixes instead of calling for active specific regulation that cuts synthetic nitrogen, gets rid of imported feed like palm kernel expeller, and significantly reduces cow numbers."
Abel says the Climate Commission has also relied on not-yet-developed technology - like a possible methane vaccine - for cutting agricultural emissions after 2035.
"Hoping and praying for future fictional tech-fixes, as if a fairy godmother is going to flutter down and magic this away, is not science fact - it's science fiction.
"The fact is we know that reduction in stocking rates and phasing out synthetic nitrogen will cut agricultural emissions while improving water quality, animal welfare and farm-gate profits in the bargain."
Greenpeace is calling for the Government to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - one of the key drivers of industrial dairying - as well as phasing out imported feed like PKE, and investing $1billion to aid farmers in transitioning to regenerative farming.
Abel praised the Commission’s recommendations on native forests, saying it’s great that the Commission has acknowledged that we need permanent native forests to draw in and lock away carbon. He also welcomed the recommendation to end coal use in food processing, such as drying milk powder.
But Abel says the report feels like too little too late.
"We’ve known for 30 years what needs to be done to tackle climate change. The Climate Change Commission’s report tells us nothing new. We still just need to cut dirty energy and switch to regenerative land use. Same as the scientists told us we needed to be doing 30 years ago and for every year since.
"The real test of this report is not what the budgets are but what the action is. The Government’s response, due in November, must not be yet another excuse for yet another year’s delay in doing what we’ve known we needed to do for 30 years already."