Lessons To Be Learnt
RNZ today reported that Supermarkets are already stockpiling and industries are crisis planning for Omicron to break into the community "any day now". They reported that “Countdown Supermarkets are already taking note of their sibling-stores in Australia, where shelves have been running bare because of supply chain disruptions. Countdown director of corporate affairs, safety and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said "when the truck drivers are sick and the supply chain members are sick, all the farmers, all the chicken operators are sick then obviously there's a short supply of product".”
Much of the pressure lies with the transport and freight industry, which is already experiencing capacity issues. The transport and freight industry is already under staffing strain and has been struggling to fill gaps to meet an increased demand.
But before food can be delivered, it needs to be grown, processed and distributed across the country - all of which could lead to shortages should an outbreak stand-down large groups of staff at a time.
There is an important lesson to be learnt here in regard to the agricultural industries that supply the majority of our food.
Currently there is great pressure being put on farmers to bear the responsibility of New Zealand’s commitments to reduce GHG’s under the Paris Accord on Climate Change. This pressure is resulting in many farmers looking to exit the industry as they cannot make a living under the current regulatory regime.
As more farmers are forced out of the industry we will see a much reduced level of security for the food supply chain within New Zealand and as this article from RNZ shows, relying on imported supplies (which has been one of the main answers to the critics of the current regulatory changes facing the rural industries) can easily lead to a situation where we have no security of supply due to factors outside of our control.
It was for this very reason that in the Paris Accord under article 2 part (b) food production was exempted from any threat to that production under the agreement.
(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
As can plainly be seen in part (b) of the Paris Agreement as copied above, one of the important parameters of the agreement’s aims was to ensure there was no threat to food production from the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
Yet here we are in New Zealand with our government making changes under both climate change obligations and also in relation to local water quality in our waterways, which are going to have a direct impact on and threaten the food production cycle in our country.
The Paris Agreement recognised that food production was of vital importance, and with the growing world population was only going to develop a greater importance, that it needed to be protected from threats related to climate change mitigation actions.
Ministers in the present government have stated that this is not a particular issue that requires specific attention in any of these legislative and quality standard changes that they are making, as we can just import enough food to replace any local produce that is no longer produced here due to the effects of these changes.
Yet as we see from this RNZ article given the global impacts on both the production and the transport logistics of food items this reliance on importing food products, is rapidly becoming, an impossibility, under the effects of the global Covid 19 Pandemic.
Yes we support the protection and enhancement of our environment, but not at the expense of security of food supply to the nation.
39.75% of New Zealand’s land mass is used for agricultural production and approximately 1% is urban area.
According to UN Habitat, cities consume 78 per cent of the world's energy and produce more than 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, they account for less than 2 per cent of the Earth's surface.
The Government needs to take a balanced view rather than follow the current ideological trend of blaming farming for all of the effects of climate change and requiring the farming industries alone to carry the responsibility of meeting New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Accord.
They need to learn the lesson from the current situation under the global pandemic and place more emphasis on the security of our food supply as provided for in article 2 of the agreement.