As Aucklanders weather yet another severe storm and brace themselves for more slips and flooding, Greenpeace Aotearoa says it’s time for urgent action to reduce the agricultural emissions that drive the climate crisis. 

Greenpeace is calling on the Government to scrap the agri-industry’s ‘He Waka Eke Noa’ plan, which it says is little more than an attempt to delay climate action. Instead, the organisation says that the Government must bring the agricultural sector fully into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner Christine Rose says “Despite the Government allowing the agri-industry to develop its own scheme, the sector continues to argue against any emissions pricing at all. The Government must get to the guts of the issue and bring agriculture – especially dairy, our single biggest polluter – fully into the ETS without further delay.”

“It’s been fifteen years since the introduction of the ETS, and still there’s no action to cut agricultural emissions. The dairy industry continues to pollute virtually unrestrained while the rest of us pay the price. 

“We can now see the He Waka Eke Noa proposal for what it is – bad faith predatory delay – designed to stall and avoid the urgent emissions reductions required,” says Rose. “The Government must call the industry’s bluff and take real and urgent action on New Zealand’s agriculture emissions, in particular intensive dairy, by bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.”

“This is no time for yet more delay to placate the industry, especially in light of the devastating climate change-induced weather events seen across the country this year.”

The agriculture sector is responsible for half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the dairy industry alone is responsible for half of that. These emissions are primarily methane and nitrous oxide, which are superheating greenhouse gasses. Scientists say methane and nitrous oxide emissions will determine whether or not we stay below the critical 1.5℃ warming goal.

“Big Dairy, led by Fonterra, produces at least a quarter of New Zealand’s emissions, superheating our climate. The industry has proven to be resistant to change, and that they will continue polluting our climate until regulation prevents it,” says Rose. 

“We all deserve a flourishing environment and a safe and stable climate, but Big Dairy is putting all we know and love at risk. Alongside emissions pricing, the Government must also move to halve the dairy herd size, cut synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, and provide strong support for a shift to regenerative, organic, ‘ecological’ farming that works with, instead of against, nature.

“The Government is failing to address emissions from New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter, intensive dairy. It’s time for Chris Hipkins and the Government to throw He Waka Eke Noa on their policy bonfire, and bring agriculture fully into the Emissions Trading Scheme.”