New Zealand’s dairy farms are being held responsible for a record high increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Data from Stats NZ, covering the years 2007-2019, showed dairy emissions rose 3.18 per cent in 2019.
That amounts to a total of 17,719 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for the year.
Overall, the New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions for the agriculture sector was almost 42,000 kilotonnes for 2019 – more than half of the total industry and household emissions measured by Stats NZ.
Emissions from New Zealand agriculture have been rising over the past decade, increasing 5.5 per cent in that period.
There are some 6.3 million cows in NZ, and they have been a major contributor to the country’s poor environmental record.
Between 1990 and 2018 New Zealand’s emission have risen by 57 per cent – the second largest increase of all the industrialised countries.
The country set itself a target in 2019 of being net zero by 2050, but so far the NZ government has not outlined how it is going to achieve this.
However, a Climate Change Commission created to map out a way forward reported in June and recommended that NZ’s herd numbers be reduced by 10-15 per cent.
Andrew Hoggard, president of New Zealand’s Federated Farmers group, dismissed the suggestion.
He told The Guardian newspaper: “Food isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have, and New Zealand farmers are amongst the best in the world at producing food in a very low footprint.
“For New Zealand to go off on some virtue signalling crusade to shut down its agricultural sector, just to say ‘Hey, we’ve reduced a heap of emissions’ hasn’t solved anything.”