Greenpeace pens letter to Shane Jones telling him to 'take a chill pill' over pro-meat views

A war of words is breaking out between Shane Jones and Greenpeace, with the minister responding to a letter from the environmental group telling him to "take a chill pill". 

The feud began when Jones, a Cabinet minister, discovered a new climate change teaching resource for year 7-10s contained advice to eat less meat to help save the planet. 

Jones blasted the advice earlier this week, describing environmental activists backing the idea as "medieval chamber workers" hell-bent on "preaching this gospel of absolutism". 

Greenpeace has responded with a letter to Jones, telling him: "Take a chill pill. Or some warfarin or something. No-one's torturing meat eaters or brainwashing anyone's children."

The letter adds: "Just to ease your mind, we're not sending out crack teams of Greenpeace climbers to abseil in and steal the chops off your barbie. 

"Nor are we preparing vegan ninjas to sneak into your open bedroom window at night to force chickpeas up your nostrils."

Jones laughed when Newshub showed him the letter. 

"Greenpeace, they're entitled to their view - they themselves are no strangers to hyperbole."

The minister said Greenpeace "have had a long agenda of serving their funders" and that a lot of the positions the environmental group takes are "quite extreme". 

Addressing the teaching resource, the letter reads: "All they're doing is putting a few accepted facts about the connection between meat, dairy production and climate change into some teaching programme, dude."

It adds: "We understand that you and Winnie [Winston Peters] were pretty pissed after Jacinda [Ardern] banned those little meat savouries from the cabinet meetings, but no need to take it so personally.

"Is it the meat withdrawal talking? Feeling 'mangry'? Does that explain the outbursts?"

Read the full letter below

In the letter Greenpeace speculates that the real reason behind Jones' "hysterical hyperbole" is "probably more mundane". 

"It's election year, and the populist playbook demands the creation of phantom enemies (in black hoods with thumbscrews) to scare your electorate, so that you can be the knight who 'vanquishes' them."

Jones, the Minister for Regional Economic Development, says his pro-meat position is about strongly backing the regions and saving "legacy industries". 

"It's important we teach our kids to be resilient - what I was always concerned about that this not be construed as an opportunity to bash birth-right legacy industries such as fishing, farming, horticulture."

Greenpeace said the world is facing a "planetary disaster" and "how everyone chooses to react to that reality is up to them". 

Phil Vine from Greenpeace.
Phil Vine from Greenpeace. Photo credit: Newshub

The environmental group pointed to United Nations figures that say livestock production accounts for 14.5 per cent of greenhouse gases worldwide, and Government figures that say agriculture makes up 48 percent of New Zealand's emissions. 

"More important than our personal habits, eating and otherwise, are the destructive habits of corporations and Governments," the letter to Jones says. 

"Seeing as you're in Government, rather than hearing more about what you plan to eat, it would be nice to know what legislative plans you have for getting industry, particularly agriculture, to start drastically lowering its emissions.

"That'd be good for everyone's blood pressure levels."

Shane Jones had a laugh reading the letter from Greenpeace.
Shane Jones had a laugh reading the letter from Greenpeace. Photo credit: Newshub

But Jones isn't backing down. 

"We've got a brilliant opportunity as Kiwis to feed the rest of the world. We're not going to do it if we're continuously stigmatising these legacy industries." 

He said he doesn't want to attack any individuals working at Greenpeace - but rather the organisation's overall message. 

"The green preachers, they know in me they've met their match... I think they're very damaging to New Zealand's economy."

Jones has the backing of some of his New Zealand First colleagues who have spoken out about the teaching resource's advice on meat - but Tracey Martin has a different view

"I'm really not sure what the drama is." 

New Zealand's agriculture industry has been praised in the past. Some studies have found it's more efficient to produce meat in New Zealand and ship it to the UK than it is to grow meat there. 

But a new study has found that no matter how efficiently New Zealand produces meat, cutting back is still the best way to fight climate change.  

You can read more about the new teaching resource here