In the wake of the Nelson climate floods, Greenpeace is urging the government to address the causes of climate change from New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – intensive dairy.

Greenpeace lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose says “Everyone deserves to live safe from the fear of flooding and extreme weather. Unfortunately, the weekend’s storms are a visceral illustration of what the climate crisis looks like.”

The Nelson flooding comes as the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events have likely increased at the global scale over a majority of land regions, and models predict greater land areas will be affected by an increase in floods in the future.

Rose says “These devastating floods are another reminder of how crucial it is for governments everywhere to act with urgency. For New Zealand, that means addressing agricultural emissions; especially cutting synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and shifting the country away from intensive dairying to more plant-based, regenerative organic farming. Farmers are among the first and worst affected by climate impacts like flooding.

“We want our farmers to be able to continue farming for generations to come. But for that to happen, New Zealand needs to change the way farming is done. Shifting to more resilient and less polluting ways of farming such as more plant-based regenerative organic agriculture, ensures we will be able to farm into the future.

“Hundreds of Nelson homes have experienced severe damage, with over a dozen deemed uninhabitable. The damage will take years to repair. A scary thing is that it’s unlikely to be long before something like this happens again. There’s a direct cause and effect here, with synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and too many cows responsible for climate change-driven damage to people’s homes, livelihoods and key infrastructure lifelines.

“Despite Prime Minister Ardern declaring climate change her generation’s nuclear free moment, her government has allowed the dairy industry to avoid regulation, while the rest of us pay the price. The impact of the grossly oversized dairy herd is more than the rivers, climate and our health can sustain. We are seeing the costs of Government inaction right now, borne by the environment and people on the ground,” said Rose.

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