The International Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), released today, reduces New Zealand’s efforts toward mitigating climate change seven points from last year’s ranking, to 35th place. New Zealand is now among the lowest-ranked countries in the world moving to tackle climate change by targeted actions.
The CCPI ranks New Zealand “low” for greenhouse gas emissions, and the country has also fallen to “low” for climate policy. New Zealand’s overall performance has been lowered by the free permit given to our biggest emitter – industrial agriculture.
The CCPI also notes that New Zealand’s “zero carbon” law does not contain policies to reduce emissions, or appropriate measures to fully achieve the 2050 target.
“Industrial dairy, driven by massive amounts of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, is at the heart of the Ardern government’s failure to deliver on the climate. In terms of emissions — dairy is to New Zealand like coal is to Australia. Until that government cuts down on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and milk storage rates Low climate fails,” says Greenpeace Aotearoa, Agriculture Campaign Leader Kristen Rose.
A new report also released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sheds more light on the massive greenhouse gas emissions footprint of agriculture, which is more than the emissions of domestic coal, gas and petrol/diesel in New Zealand combined.
“The new EPA report highlights that the dairy industry, along with the fertilizer industry enabler, are the nation’s biggest climate criminals,” Rose says.
“No wonder New Zealand’s credibility is in tatters at COP 26, the Ardern government failing to take meaningful action on our biggest climate polluter – industrial dairy.
“Add to that, polluted rivers, polluted drinking water, and biodiversity losses here and abroad, industrial dairy is an environmental ‘smoke gun’, laden with fertilizer, many cows, and a government failing to address it.”
The dairy industry uses 67% of all synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in New Zealand. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use in New Zealand increased 663% between 1990 and 2019, with the dairy herd increasing 82% from 3.4 million cows to 6.3 million. 98% of the country’s synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are distributed by two companies – Ravensdown and Ballance.
In addition to polluting the climate and rivers, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and cow urine are major causes of nitrate contamination of drinking water, linked to 40 bowel cancer deaths each year in New Zealand, according to a scientific study published this week.
Greenpeace is calling on the government to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, reduce storage rates, and support farmers to transition to organic, renewable agriculture in the interest of climate, rivers and human health.
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