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Dairy And Fertiliser Industries Responsible For NZ’s Declining Climate Performance

The international Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released today, downgrades New Zealand efforts toward climate change reduction seven points from last year’s ranking, to 35th place. New Zealand is now among the low-ranking countries of the world in moves to address climate change through meaningful action.

The CCPI rates New Zealand ‘low’ for greenhouse gas emissions, and the country has also dropped to ‘low’ for climate policy. New Zealand’s performance overall was marked down because of the free pass given to our largest emitter - industrial agriculture.

The CCPI also notes that New Zealand’s ‘Zero Carbon’ Act contains no policies for cutting emissions, or appropriate measures to fully meet the 2050 target.

"Industrial dairy, driven by massive quantities of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, is at the heart of the Ardern Government’s failure to deliver on climate. In terms of emissions - dairy is to New Zealand what coal is to Australia. Until this Government acts to cut synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and lower dairy stocking rates it is failing on climate", says Greenpeace Aotearoa lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose.

An new report also released today by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) further highlight agriculture’s massive greenhouse gas emission footprint, which is more than New Zealand’s domestic coal, gas and petrol/diesel transport emissions combined.

"The new EPA report highlights that the dairy industry, together with its fertiliser industry enabler, are the country’s biggest climate criminals," says Rose.

"It’s no wonder that New Zealand’s credibility is in tatters at the COP 26 climate conference, the Ardern Government has failed to take meaningful action on our biggest climate polluter - industrial dairy.

"Add to that, polluted rivers, contaminated drinking water and biodiversity losses here and abroad, industrial dairying is an environmental ‘smoking gun’, loaded with fertiliser, too many cows, and a government that’s failing to address it."

67% of all New Zealand’s synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is used by the Dairy industry. New Zealand's Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use increased 663% between 1990 and 2019 during which time the dairy herd increased by 82% from 3.4 million cows to 6.3 million. 98% of the country’s synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is distributed by two companies - Ravensdown and Ballance.

As well as polluting the climate and rivers, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and dairy cow urine are major causes of nitrate contamination of drinking water linked to 40 bowel cancer deaths every year in New Zealand according to a scientific study published this week.

Greenpeace is calling for the government to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, lower stocking rates, and support farmers to move to regenerative organic farming for the good of the climate, rivers and human health.

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