New Zealand climate change document is ‘free pass’ for dairy

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Getty Images/RLSPHOTO
Pic: Getty Images/RLSPHOTO

Related tags Greenpeace Dairy Milk Sustainability

The independent Climate Change Commission in New Zealand has released its draft package of advice to Government on the steps the country must take to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

But Greenpeace said it amounts to a “free pass for dairy.”

Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr said the commission advice is ambitious but realistic and makes a clear case to Government for taking immediate and decisive action on climate change.

"As a country we need transformational and lasting change to meet our targets and ensure a thriving Aotearoa for future generations,”​ Carr said.

"The good news is that our analysis shows there are technically achievable, economically affordable and socially acceptable paths for Aotearoa to take. But the Government must move faster - and support business, agriculture and community to do the same.”

"There are a few actions that are critical to meeting our targets: electric vehicles, accelerated renewable energy generation, climate friendly farming practices and more permanent forests, predominantly natives,"​ Carr said.

Carr said the document is draft advice and is committed to ‘true consultation.’

The Commission's advice includes the proposed first three emissions budgets for the country, recommendations on the direction of the country’s first emissions reduction plan, which provides policy guidance to Government on how the emissions budgets could be met, and a review that finds the first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is not compatible with the country’s responsibilities under the Paris Agreement to contribute to global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Greenpeace said it welcomed key parts of the report, but said the ambition falls short of what could be called “transformational” and continues a long tradition of giving the dairy industry a “free pass to pollute.”

Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel says the recommendations for cutting climate pollution from agriculture, which is responsible for half of New Zealand’s emissions, fall short.

“The Climate Change Commission’s draft plan seems more anxious about maintaining the status quo than biting the bullet in the existential crisis of our time. It effectively says ‘We can only save the planet so long as we don’t have to produce one kilo less milk or meat by 2035’. That ain’t transformation,”​ Abel said.

“The recommendations are still stuck on price and market tools, tinkering, sending messages, researching, “breeding and feeding,” and industry tech-fixes instead of calling for active specific regulation that cuts synthetic nitrogen, gets rid of imported feed like palm kernel expeller, and significantly reduces cow numbers.”

Abel said reduction in stocking rates and phasing out synthetic nitrogen will cut agricultural emissions while improving water quality, animal welfare and farm-gate profits as well.

Greenpeace is calling for the Government to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertilizer – one of the key drivers of industrial dairying – as well as phasing out imported feed like PKE, and investing NZ$1bn (US$720m) to aid farmers in transitioning to regenerative farming.

Abel praised the Commission’s recommendations on native forests, saying it is good the Commission has acknowledged that we need permanent native forests to draw in and lock away carbon. He also welcomed the recommendation to end coal use in food processing, such as for drying milk powder.

But Abel said the report feels like too little too late.

“We’ve known for 30 years what needs to be done to tackle climate change. The Climate Change Commission’s report tells us nothing new. We still just need to cut dirty energy and switch to regenerative land use. Same as the scientists told us we needed to be doing 30 years ago and for every year since,”​ Abel said.

“The real test of this report is not what the budgets are but what the action is. The Government’s response, due in November, must not be yet another excuse for yet another year’s delay in doing what we’ve known we needed to do for 30 years already.”

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1 comment

Leave the farmers alone..

Posted by Matt,

Dairy is the golden goose, no gov't, left or right is stupid enough to hobble the Dairy farmers. All talk otherwise is just hot air. (aka virtue signalling)..

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