Groundswell to hold nationwide protest opposing Government's proposed emissions plan

 The protest will begin across Aotearoa at midday on Thursday.
The protest will begin across Aotearoa at midday on Thursday. Photo credit: Groundswell

Groundswell members will rally against the Government's proposed agricultural emissions plan on Thursday in a nationwide protest. 

Groundswell says they've had a "massive" response following the Government's announcement last week, outlining how it would make farmers pay for agricultural emissions. 

"Over 28,000 New Zealanders [have signed] up to protect farming and our rural communities from the Government's punitive, counterproductive, and unworkable tax on food production," Groundswell said in an email.

The protest called 'We're not going to take it' will begin across Aotearoa at midday on Thursday, with large numbers expected at the four main centres. 

Groundswell said Aotearoa's farmers are "the most sustainable food producers in the world, as verified by independent research".

When asked which research they were referring to, Groundswell told Newshub to "Google it" and type in "lowest carbon footprint". 

The group was likely referring to a 2021 report conducted by AgResearch and commissioned by DairyNZ, which found when compared to 17 other countries, Aotearoa's carbon footprint for milk production is 70 percent less than the global average and 46 percent less than the average of 17 countries in the study. 

But the report's conclusion said there may be overlap in the range for New Zealand and four other countries studied in the report.

"The standard deviation shown by the error bars indicate overlap with the range for several countries (NZ, Uruguay, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Canada)," the report outlined. 

The report also noted New Zealand uses "country-specific" emission measurement factors, which could be an advantage to Aotearoa's figures. 

Groundswell worries the tax on emissions will "will lead to food scarcity, higher food prices, and more land going into pine trees".

"This will lead to poor outcomes for rural communities and rural businesses - the Government acknowledge this in their document."

The Government's consultation document acknowledged some of the challenges and opportunities rural communities may face as a result of the plan, including further de-population and a decline in community services, a reduction in quality of living and significant change in spending.

Groundswell went further and claimed the Government's emissions plan wouldn't improve environmental outcomes, but instead "increase global emissions".

"The Government also acknowledge in their own document; because food production will be picked up by other countries with less sustainable farming practices."

The consultation document did acknowledge this and said: "Any loss in production associated with Aotearoa New Zealand's emissions reduction will reduce the amount of product sent to world markets."

The document added if competing countries fill the gap left by Aotearoa "agricultural emissions in these competing countries will likely rise". 

"If those emissions increases are not offset by reductions elsewhere in those economies, this process reduces the effect that Aotearoa New Zealand's emissions reductions have on overall global emissions. This is known as emissions leakage."

A recent report by the Climate Commission found the risk of emissions leakage to be "low". 

"The risk of emissions leakage is highly uncertain but appears to be low for agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand in the near term."