“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.”