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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released it’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land. It is the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever done on food, farming, land and climate change.

It points to an urgent need to revamp the global food system away from industrial meat and dairy and to protect and restore forests as two key solutions to the escalating climate crisis.

Greenpeace says the report should serve as the defining moment for this Government, a clarion call for immediate action to curb emissions from New Zealand’s biggest polluters, the dairy and agricultural industries.

“This report makes the science crystal clear. Industrial dairy and livestock farming are a major driver of the climate crisis,” says Greenpeace agricultural campaigner Gen Toop.

“If this Government is serious about climate action, it must halve the herd, ban synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and invest significantly in a shift to plant-based regenerative farming.”

The IPCC report found that agriculture, forestry and other types of land use now account for 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is estimated to be up to as high as 37% of if the emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the food system are included

Increased ruminant livestock numbers and increased use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser were found to be key drivers of these emissions. Dairy cow numbers in NZ have nearly doubled since the 1990’s and the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser has increased 600%. The dairy industry is now emitting more climate pollution than NZ’s entire transport fleet.

The report also stresses that if treated well, land can be a sink for carbon dioxide and an important tool to fight climate change.

“Land and how it’s used can either be a cause of the climate crisis or a solution to it,” says Toop.

“Either we continue on with industrial dairying and we worsen the climate crisis, or this Government can make the right choice; to halve the herd, drive a nationwide transition to plant-based regenerative farming and increase native afforestation.”

Alarmingly, the report found that global temperature rise is already leading to more heatwaves, droughts and heavy precipitation, as well as land degradation and desertification and this is impacting global food security.

“Climate change is already impacting land, livelihoods, biodiversity, health, infrastructure, and food security. This will only worsen if action isn’t taken now.”

“The Government is consulting the public on how it should deal with agricultural emissions. But it has proposed a set of weak and incremental changes that now need a complete overhaul in light of this IPCC report.”

Greenpeace is encouraging the public to submit on the Government’s “Action on agricultural emissions” consultation, which closes next Tuesday at 5pm, through a submission tool on its website.
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The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) is available at https://ipcc.ch/report/srccl. A Fact Sheet and Headline Statements are available at www.ipcc.ch

New Zealand’s emissions profile: