Greenpeace is today urging the Government to heed United Nations’ advice to rapidly cut climate pollution from methane through lowering cow stocking rates and cutting synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.
The report, produced by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, declares that cutting methane emissions is even more important than previously thought, and that that rapid action to cut methane emissions could limit climate damage.
The dairy industry contributes the bulk of New Zealand's methane emissions, due to 6.5 million dairy cows - a number that has doubled in the past 30 years.
In 2020, global methane emissions from several sources, including cattle, rose a record amount despite widespread Covid-19 lockdowns. The report is clear that failure to cut methane emissions would see the world overshooting global heating limits.
The resulting climate catastrophe could mean billions of people suffering more unpredictable extreme weather, water scarcity, heat-related illnesses and more.
Greenpeace Aotearoa senior campaigner Steve Abel says the report drives home the fact that if New Zealand is serious about tackling the climate crisis, the Government must act now to cut methane from intensive dairying.
"New Zealand’s most polluting industry - dairy - has lobbied hard for exemptions, special treatment and voluntary regulation, and argued against the science which shows that methane has a global heating power 80 times greater than carbon dioxide over 20 years," says Abel.
"This report is yet another challenge to the Government, whose softly-softly approach to regulating the dairy industry is solidifying a climate crisis future where droughts, floods and fires are the norm."
Greenpeace is calling on the Government to bring in solid regulation to lower cow stocking rates, cut synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - a key driver of intensive dairying - and phase-out the use of imported feed, such as palm kernel expeller.
"We know the next few years are crucial in terms of acting on the climate crisis. The Government must cut methane emissions by limiting cow stocking rates, cutting the things that enable intensive dairying - such as synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - and supporting farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming," says Abel.
"There are already farmers out there working with nature to create thriving farms that don’t harm the climate. With some clear-sighted Government ambition, we can make farming part of the solution for tackling the climate crisis and restoring nature."