Greenpeace is calling out Jacinda Ardern’s lack of action on emissions from agriculture as the Prime Minister speaks at the Leaders Summit on Climate convened by US President Biden. 

In a speech during the summit, Ardern encouraged all countries to put a price on carbon in order to tackle the climate crisis. Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman says this is ironic given the fact that after four years in power the Ardern Government has still not put a price on New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – agriculture.

“Intensive dairying is New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter and, because of it, we have some of the highest emissions per person in the world. What the tar sands are to Canada or coal mining is to Australia – that’s what intensive dairying is to New Zealand,” says Norman.

“You can’t tackle climate change in Aotearoa without taking action on industrial dairying.”

In 2017, Ardern described the climate crisis as her generation’s nuclear-free moment, indicating that Aotearoa could be a climate leader. But Norman says the Government’s actions do not match its words. 

“Ardern is encouraging other countries to follow New Zealand’s lead on climate. Quite frankly, that’d be a disaster, considering our Government is too timid to regulate our biggest climate polluter. If Canada followed New Zealand’s lead, they would do nothing about tar sands, Australia nothing about coal.”

Under the Government’s current policy trajectory, agriculture will not be required to pay a price on its emissions until 2024 at the earliest. Instead, the sector has negotiated yet another ‘voluntary agreement’ with Government called He Waka Eke Noa. 

“Past experience tells us that voluntary agreements with polluting industries don’t work,” says Norman. 

“What works is cutting the bad stuff and making polluters pay, while making it easier for farmers to do the right thing. That means legislation to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and imported feed like PKE, a price on agricultural emissions, and support for farmers to switch to regenerative organic farming methods

“The cap on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser was a first step in the right direction, now we need to treat climate change as if it really were an emergency. 

“Unlike coal and oil mining, farming will be part of the solution. We can turn the farming sector around from being Aotearoa’s biggest polluter into one of our best solutions for tackling climate change and restoring nature.” 

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