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Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, has reacted with disbelief that the Government’s latest climate proposal includes an option for dairy to voluntarily deal with their emissions over the next six years.
“The dairy industry is the country’s single largest climate polluter, emitting more than New Zealand’s entire transport fleet. There are simply too many cows right now for our climate to cope with,” he says.
The Government is putting forward two short-term options for action on agriculture’s climate pollution.
The first is to leave agriculture out of the Emission Trading Scheme altogether, with the industry paying nothing for emissions until 2025. Instead agri-businesses would enter into a voluntary agreement with the Government.
Norman says this proposal was made by leaders in the agricultural sector, and was specifically discouraged by the ICCC in their recommendations.
“A voluntary agreement between big agriculture and the Government must absolutely be out of the question – voluntary efforts have failed to cut emissions over the past 20 years. This Government should work for the people, and not for the agricultural companies who want to protect their profits regardless of the cost to the climate,” he says.
The second option is to bring agriculture into the ETS between 2021 and 2025, and charge processors like Fonterra, Ravensdown, Agri-Ballance, and ANZCO for just 5% of agriculture’s emissions. The money raised would be funnelled back to the agricultural sector as emissions reduction incentives.
“Bringing agriculture into the ETS is a step in the right direction, but it’s truly astounding that the strongest option put forward by the Government to deal with our biggest emitter is to delay action for another two years, after which agri-business will pay a paltry 5% of their emissions that they will then receive back as incentives.”
The ICCC estimates that the price incurred by farmers of bringing agriculture into the ETS at 5% would be $0.01 per kilogram of milk solid, an average of $14 per hectare per year for dairy farms.
“The whole point of bringing agriculture into the ETS is to avert climate breakdown by reducing agricultural emissions. That’s not going to happen if farmers only have to pay a laughable one cent per kilogram of milk solids,” he says.
“Dealing with the climate crisis means we urgently need to cut cow numbers, end the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, and undergo a global transition away from intensive livestock farming.
In the long-term Post 2025, the Government is proposing that farmers will not go into the ETS at all, but instead a separate levy/rebate scheme for their emissions will be created.
“Agriculture must be immediately brought fully into the ETS so that New Zealand’s biggest polluters are finally forced to start paying for their massive climate bill.”