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Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is added to grass to make it grow faster. More grass means more cows – that means more climate and river pollution.

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Greenpeace is calling the Government’s surprise backdown on its commitment to put farming into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) a major sell-out.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce that agriculture, the country’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, will be exempt from a price on its emissions until 2025. The ETS is one of the Government’s main tools for controlling emissions and meeting climate targets.

“The Government has buckled to lobbying pressure from the dairy industry and big agri-business,” says Greenpeace campaigner, Gen Toop.

“Agriculture is our biggest climate polluter. An emissions trading scheme without the sector in it is a joke and won’t be able to combat the climate emergency – the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.”

“The Government is protecting the short term profits of a few in the dairy and agricultural sector at the expense of the rest of us and the future of our entire planet.”

The Labour party policy was to bring agriculture into the ETS in this electoral term. This was reiterated in their coalition agreement with New Zealand First, where they committed to only pricing 5% of agriculture’s emissions, effectively giving the sector a 95% subsidy.

Toop says, “It is unjust that this Government is allowing the dairy and agriculture industry to carry on with business as usual. The climate science is clear, this is not business as usual.”

“Business as usual will mean the end of the world as we know it. We are facing widespread starvation, human displacement and suffering, mass extinction of wildlife and ecological collapse.

“Governments worldwide have to stop pandering to polluting industries and start taking action.”

Agriculture makes up 49% of NZ’s emissions. Those emissions have risen 13.5% since 1990. The dairy sector is the largest single polluter, emitting more than the entire transport sector.

Including agriculture in the ETS at 5% was predicted to have minimal financial impact on the sector. WIth a 95% free allocation; Dairy farmers would pay just 1 cent per kg of milk solids, cattle farmers 1 cent per kg of beef, and sheep farmers 3 cents per kg of meat. (2)

“The dairy industry and big agri-business are driving the worsening climate emergency. But this Government is not even brave enough to make the industry pay just one cent per kilogram of milk solids.”

“What hope can we have now of them taking any action to drive the transition away from intensive livestock farming, which is what the climate science says needs to happen to keep the world under 1.5 degrees.”

The Government received thousands of submissions this year supporting the proposal to bring agriculture into the ETS. But, those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“Despite thousands of students striking in the streets calling for action on the climate crisis, the Government is two years into this electoral term and has yet to take any serious action to directly target and reduce agricultural emissions.”

“To have a fighting chance of survival we have to rapidly reduce emissions, starting now. In NZ that means far fewer cows and a swift transition away from intensive livestock into more plant-based regenerative farming.”

Ends

Contact:
Greenpeace campaigner, Genevieve Toop – 021 316 840
Communications and media, Phil Vine – 021 809 422

References

(1) Ministry for the Environment & Stats NZ. “New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2017” Retrieved from www.mfe.govt.nz

Table ES 4.1 New Zealand’s gross emissions by sector in 1990 and 2017

(2) Ministry for the Environment. 2019. Action on agricultural emissions: A discussion document on proposals to address greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.