Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has enraged Kiwis over a tweet targeting New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.
Thunberg shared an article from The Guardian headlined 'Emissions from cows on New Zealand dairy farms reach record levels'. She also pulled a quote from the story to tweet alongside it that says: "New Zealand is one of the world's worst performers on emission increases. Its emissions rose by 57 percent between 1990 and 2018 - the second greatest increase of all industrialised countries."
The Guardian's story cites data from Stats NZ which shows dairy emissions rose 3.18 percent in 2019 to a total of 17,719 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide. This also drove an overall increase in emissions across the agricultural sector, which released nearly 42,000 kilotonnes in 2019.
Greenhouse gas emissions from industries and households increased 2.1 percent (1778 kilotonnes) compared to 2018. This is because industry-related emissions rose 2.5 percent (1808 kilotonnes), but this was offset by a 0.3 percent decrease (30 kilotonnes) in household emissions.
Thunberg drew the ire of New Zealanders after tweeting the story, some of whom invited her to visit Aotearoa to see the "world-leading emissions efficient practices that feed 40 million people".
"You're also welcome to look into the fact that unlike any other country in the world, 50 percent of our emissions are in a sector that currently has no realistic ways of reducing emissions in a meaningful way, and an electricity sector which is already 85 percent renewable," one person said.
Another said that New Zealand accounts for less than 0.1 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, so it would be important to tackle the bigger polluters first.
"Why are you attacking the most environmentally efficient farmers in the world? Farmers who do this without any subsidies! This is extremely bad taste. You should apologise to those that are leading the way," another said.
But others agreed with Thunberg and said that New Zealand should consider ways to lower its emissions.
"Shameful. Farmers in NZ Aotearoa have been exempt from climate action for decades. And my dairy farming family here feel hard done by any tiny regulation. Farmers, you are not special. You are part of an economic system. If you pollute, you must pay, like any business," one person says.
"Even if NZ is a 'small' country when it comes to generated emissions it is alarming that country after country fails to reduce their emissions," another says.
In 2019, the Government passed the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which sets a target of zero carbon emissions by 2050 and commits to global effort under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The Climate Change Commission said in June that the Government isn't on track to meeting its net zero emissions target by 2050. Although the commission's chairperson Dr Rod Carr said it is still possible to make transformational and lasting change through rapid uptake of electric vehicles, changing farming practices, slashing use of fossil fuels, and growing more forests.