Greenpeace takes aim at agribusiness after new report highlights 'significant' effects of climate change

Greenpeace is calling for a reduction in cow numbers.
Greenpeace is calling for a reduction in cow numbers. Photo credit: Getty

Greenpeace has taken aim at the agribusiness sector after a Ministry for the Environment report released on Thursday highlighted "significant" effects of climate change in New Zealand.

The ministry's annual climate summary, made with Stats NZ, found that some of the country's coldest regions could see their fire risk more than double over the next 20 years due to climate change.

By 2040, the report predicted, days with extreme fire danger will increase by an average of 70 percent, with the largest increases expected for colder areas so far unaccustomed to fire.

Greenpeace said the report "underscores the need for urgent action on New Zealand's biggest climate polluter: agribusiness".

"This report shows what so many New Zealanders already know: the climate crisis is on our doorstep and is affecting our lives," said Greenpeace's executive director Russel Norman.

"Industrial dairying is New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter. For too long, successive governments have avoided acknowledging this glaring fact.

"The next government must phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - itself a huge source of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide - reduce cow numbers, bring agribusiness into the Emissions Trading Scheme, and support farmers to move towards regenerative farming."

According to the Ministry for the Environment, the agriculture sector accounts for 48 percent of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.

But those in the farming sector say the industry is one of the world's most efficient and environmentally friendly and is already taking steps to improve.

According to one recent study, the country's beef and sheep sector is already offsetting the bulk of its agricultural emissions, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand says there has been a 30 percent reduction in absolute greenhouse emissions from beef and sheep production since 1990.

Greenpeace said "decisive action" by the Government to curb agribusiness emissions "could see the sector influencing agribusiness practices globally".

"The climate crisis is only going to make life harder for farmers. We need bold and decisive action from our next government to cut synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and shift Aotearoa to resilient, climate-friendly farming methods."