Greenpeace is expressing shock and disappointment at the Government’s discussion document for the Emissions Reduction Plan, released today, and says instead of signaling a step up in climate action, there’s just more hot air.
The purpose of the Emissions Reduction Plan is to lay out the pathway for New Zealand to curb climate pollution. The discussion document, which the Government is encouraging New Zealanders to give feedback on, has been released ahead of major climate meeting of world leaders, the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), in Glasgow at the end of this month.
With agriculture the country’s biggest climate polluter, Greenpeace lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose says action to cut emissions from intensive dairying is notably missing from the Emissions Reduction Plan document.
"Instead of doing what we know works to cut climate pollution from agriculture - like lowering cow stocking rates and phasing out key drivers of intensive dairying, such as synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - the Government’s discussion document does little to broach the conversation on reducing agricultural emissions," says Rose.
"The document is frankly full of meaningless waffle that won’t turn the tide on an accelerating climate crisis, and it is clearly pandering to the dairy industry. There is no excuse for hanging the country's hopes on the possibility of unproven techno-fixes when the solutions to the climate crisis are known and could be put in place tomorrow."
Agriculture accounts for 91% of biogenic methane emissions. When applied to land, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - also a key driver of intensive dairying - gives off more direct greenhouse gases than all of New Zealand’s pre-Covid domestic flights.
A recent report by WWF found that the world’s five biggest meat and milk producers, including Fonterra, emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as major oil company ExxonMobil.
Rose points out that New Zealand has already come under fire on the world stage for its lack of climate action.
"Climate Action Tracker ranks New Zealand’s climate policies as ‘highly insufficient’. Despite her ‘nuclear-free moment’ pledge and even after four years in charge, Ardern’s Government continues to fall lower in the rankings. The climate crisis has enough hot air already, and we’re seeing it in the form of more frequent and intense droughts, floods and fires," says Rose.
"We already know what works to cut emissions from agriculture: fewer cows, less synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, less imported feed and more support for farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming. But those key actions are missing from the Emissions Reduction Plan document.
"So much for tackling the climate crisis being Ardern’s ‘nuclear free’ moment. Instead of taking action, she’s sending Climate Minister James Shaw off to COP26 with a suitcase full of hot air and udder bullshit."
Rose points out that many farmers are already shifting away from intensive dairying toward more diverse, regenerative and organic farming, with lower stocking rates.
"By supporting farmers to shift to regenerative, organic farming, we can have a thriving countryside with vibrant rural communities and plenty of jobs, which is restoring nature, protecting the climate and looking after people’s health.
"While the Government's lack of vision is deeply disappointing, I’m confident that New Zealanders will continue to stand up for a better future. Ultimately, sanity will prevail."