Climate Commission Report More Concerned About Placating Dairy Industry Than Tackling Climate Crisis

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Greenpeace says there is still a cow-shaped hole in both
the Climate Change Commission’s advice and the
Government’s approach to climate action, following the
release of the Commission’s finalised climate
plan.

The report sets out climate action
recommendations for the Government, and comes after a
consultation period which saw thousands of people making
submissions calling for more ambitious climate
action.

Greenpeace climate change campaigner Amanda
Larsson says the Commission’s final report has ignored New
Zealanders by continuing to give a free pass to the
country’s biggest climate polluter: intensive
dairying.

“The Climate Change Commission’s final
plan seems more anxious about placating big dairy than doing
what is scientifically necessary to avert the climate
crisis,” says Larsson.

Since the draft climate plan
was released earlier this year, a major United Nations study
has shown the importance of cutting methane emissions in the
short-term in order to tackle the climate crisis.

The
United Nations says the world must
cut methane emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030 to avoid the
worst effects of the climate crisis
. This compares to
the Commission’s budget, which reduces methane by just 16%
by 2035.

“New Zealand has the world’s highest
methane emissions per person, largely thanks to those six
million dairy cows. The Commission’s goal of a 16%
reduction in methane is not only insufficient, it’s
unlikely to succeed because it relies on voluntary measures
and future techno-fixes, like the fabled methane vaccine,”
says Larsson.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and cow
urine emit nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse
gas.

“Intensive dairying is to New Zealand what coal
is to Australia and tar sands are to Canada. If this
Government is serious about tackling the climate crisis, it
must do what we already know will cut climate pollution from
intensive dairying: phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser,
substantially reduce stocking rates, and support farmers to
shift to regenerative organic farming,” says
Larsson.

“The Commission is completely missing the
opportunity for a thriving countryside with vibrant rural
communities and plenty of jobs, which is restoring nature,
protecting the climate and looking after people’s
health.”

Larsson was pleased to see the Commission at
least acknowledge the role of the world’s ocean in
preventing climate change, but was disappointed that this
recognition wasn’t matched with any recommended
actions.

“The ocean is our biggest ally in the fight
against the climate crisis, having already taken up a third
of global emissions. If we’re to pass on a stable climate
to our children, we must preserve the ocean’s ability to
continue its essential role in absorbing carbon,” says
Larsson.

“That means increasing ocean protections and
regulating destructive fishing practices like bottom
trawling, as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change.”

Larsson says the process of
developing the Government’s climate plan has been
agonisingly slow for all New Zealanders concerned about the
climate crisis.

“We’re now almost four years into a
Government that once said tackling the climate crisis was a
priority, and yet here we are, only now settling on a list
of recommendations,” says Larsson.

“We can talk about
recommendations until the cows come home, but until the
Government gets to work and cuts climate pollution from
those cows, we’re leaving ourselves and our future
generations exposed to more frequent and intense droughts,
floods, storms and fires that the climate crisis will
bring.”

“The real test of this report is not what the
recommendations 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 need to do for 30 years
already.”

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