Climate commission misses dairy with advice on emissions trading scheme

Greenpeace says the Climate Change Commission’s advice to government on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) misses the mark as it continues to exempt New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – the agriculture.

Agriculture accounts for half of New Zealand’s emissions, with intensive dairy being the country’s biggest emitter – accounting for a quarter of all climate pollution.¹ While today’s proposals are silent on emissions agriculture, the Commission on Climate Change notes the risks this does to reducing emissions – threatening New Zealand’s comparative advantage and imposing costs on future generations.

“This week’s disastrous storms, floods and heatwaves show that we have no time to lose in cutting emissions from the intensive dairy industry, New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter,” said said Christine Rose, Greenpeace agricultural campaign manager.

“The government must bring agriculture into the emissions trading system and turn off the taps of the engines of agricultural pollution – synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and too many cows.”

Although there is ‘backstop’ legislation in place as the government considers self-regulation of the agribusiness through ‘He Waka Eke Noa’, according to Greenpeace Aotearoa, it would take agriculture almost 100 years to be included at the same rate the public pays for the broadcasts. .

The Climate Change Commission believes that the ETS will have a disproportionate impact on low-income households and those least able to adapt, and that national distributional impacts and other equity considerations need to be managed .

“To be a fair and effective system that responds to the climate crisis, the emissions trading system must now fully include industrial dairy production. While agriculture gets a free pass from the ETS, ordinary people across the country have to pay the price and pick up the coward,” Rose says.

“The government needs to tackle the causes of climate change, not just put a price on them. That means phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and halving the dairy herd.”

Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers produce twice the emissions of pre-Covid domestic aviation, and by enabling dairy intensification they are responsible for producing much more than that, including much of the greenhouse gases more powerful, methane and nitrous oxide.

“Now is the time to usher in the revolution of regenerative agriculture, which works with nature – not against it. A better agricultural future is possible, but action is urgently needed.”

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