In the wake of revelations that Chris Hipkins’ chief of staff, Andrew Kirton, lobbied against the Container Return Scheme on behalf of the liquor industry shortly before the scheme was scrapped by the Prime Minister, Greenpeace is calling for the scheme to be reintroduced immediately, and also warning that the problem goes much deeper.

“This smells rotten to the core and the Prime Minister should act immediately to bring back the Container Return Scheme. It would have significant benefits for our communities and the environment, higher recycling rates, more reuse and refill options, less plastics pollution, and more green jobs in our communities.”

The news dropped on the same day as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its ‘synthesis report’, which confirms that human-caused climate change is already widespread, rapid and intensifying, despite decades of warnings from scientists. The IPCC says the climate crisis is worse than predicted and that we have a small window – less than a decade – for humanity to avoid an irreversible trajectory towards an unlivable planet.

“The science of climate change has been well established for decades and this IPCC report is confirming what we are already seeing with this summer’s tragic floods, cyclones and droughts,” says Greenpeace spokesperson Amanda Larsson. 

“Inaction on climate change has never been about a lack of knowledge or even a lack of solutions to deal with this crisis. What it ultimately comes down to is politicians the world over being lobbied into inaction by polluting industries and their lobbyists.”

In 2015, it was revealed that oil giant Exxon knew about climate change in the 1970s but, instead of reorienting their business to clean energy, proceeded to spend billions on political lobbying and public misinformation campaigns to block climate action.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, Fonterra has once again emerged as the nation’s top climate polluter, producing around twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the next biggest polluter.

“The intensive dairy sector is responsible for producing huge amounts of methane and nitrous oxide which are superheating gases that are cooking the climate faster than carbon dioxide,” says Larsson.

“But, to date, successive governments have bowed to dairy lobbying and the sector faces virtually no consequences for its pollution.”

Greenpeace points to the then Labour-NZ First Government’s 2019 decision to backtrack on its coalition agreement commitment to bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme, instead deferring to the industry to come up with its own plan – known as He Waka Eke Noa.

“Predictably, He Waka Eke Noa only reduces emissions by less than 1%. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on. This is what happens when you hand the power over to vested interests to make their own rules instead of acting in the interests of people.

“He Waka Eke Noa is a classic example of predatory delay by climate polluters. This scheme has lost us four critical years in the fight against climate change and the livestock industry is now threatening to walk away from the deal anyway.

“When you have toxic pollutants literally taking people’s lives, you don’t hand the power to the polluters to do something about it. It is the job of Government to regulate to stop that pollution from happening.

“We really are the last generation with the power to act on climate change. Nobody wants to condemn their children to an unlivable planet. We need those in political power to stand up for our children’s future and not be lobbied into inaction by polluting industries.”

Greenpeace is calling on the Government to ban synthetic nitrogen fertiliser which is a key enabler of intensive dairying and to support farmers to reduce cow numbers by moving to plant-based regenerative, organic farming.