According to the most recent figures, greenhouse gas issued by the New Zealand dairy industry reached an all-time high.
Dairy emissions increased by 3.18% in 2019, reaching 17,719 kilotons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to new data from Stats NZ for the years 2007-2019. This increase contributed to the overall growth of the agricultural sector, which emitted about 42,000 kilotonnes that year.
Agriculture accounted for more than half of all industry and household emissions recorded by Stats NZ, with dairy, sheep and cattle production accounting for the bulk of this. The increase was part of a long-term trend in New Zealand’s agricultural emissions, which had increased 5.5 percent over the past decade.
Pollutants produced by the digestive tract of New Zealand’s 6.3 million cows are one of the country’s most serious environmental problems. Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming and climate catastrophe.
It is “not surprising” that “when you let businesses and industries regulate themselves, they are essentially preserving the status quo of their pollution profile,” according to Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel.
“To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you need to intervene, regulate and legislate,” he added.
Related article: Your Organic Meat Doesn’t Help the Environment Much; here’s why
Poor emissions regulation
New Zealand is one of the lowest performing countries in the world when it comes to emissions growth. Between 1990 and 2018, its emissions increased by 57%, the second highest increase among all industrialized countries. According to figures released earlier this year, New Zealand emissions increased by 2% in 2018-19.
“Food is not nice to have. It’s a staple,” said Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard. “New Zealand farmers are among the best in the world at providing food with a shallow footprint. “
“It didn’t help New Zealand to embark on a virtue signaling campaign to shut down its agricultural industry just to claim ‘Hey, we’ve cut a bunch of emissions,'” he said. for follow-up.
According to Hoggard, the industry is optimistic that new scientific advances such as methane inhibitors, selection and use of alternative food types will continue to minimize methane emissions.
Multi-party climate legislation
(Photo: Kim Hansen)
New Zealand embraces the multiparty system climate legislation in 2019 which set a net CO2 emissions target for 2050 and established the Climate Change Commission to chart the course towards that target. The government is constitutionally obligated to respond to the commission’s findings, released in June with policy recommendations, but has yet to do so.
According to the commission’s study, part of the effort to reduce methane emissions could be achieved by improving agricultural methods and raising animals that generate less gas. However, this would also require a 10-15% reduction in the total number of herds.
Hoggard also said methane emissions were down from 2006, despite evidence revealing that methane emissions peaked that year. Since 2008, methane emissions have increased significantly.
Urgent need for action
According to Abel, the data released Thursday should be seen as a conservative estimate as it excludes emissions from transport, coal used to dry powdered milk and emissions from palm kernels imported for food.
“All of the dairy industry’s claims that it self-regulates and takes control of the problem clearly isn’t working, as actual emissions data shows,” Abel said.
“We need agriculture, but it needs to stop being this industrial polluter and instead focus on keeping the land, our rivers and our freshwater healthy, rather than causing catastrophic weather events in the world. cause of climate change. “
Read also: Sustainable agriculture: the future of green agriculture
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