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23 Jun 2017 15:25
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    OECD revs up NZ over emissions progress

    The government needs to regulate greenhouse emissions as the country's emissions get worse while other nations improve, the OECD says.


    New Zealand's greenhouse emissions are getting worse while the rest of the OECD's are falling and something needs to be done to curb the country's farming emissions, according to an international report.

    The latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) environmental performance review has found Kiwis are driving too much and not enough is being done to reduce the greenhouse effects of farming.

    Tuesday's report finds gross emissions from New Zealand increased 6 per cent from 2000 to 2014, while falling 5 per cent across the 35 OECD member countries.

    Per capita, New Zealand is among the five highest emitters in the OECD.

    The report highlights the pressure being put on the natural environment as a result of economic growth and reliance on the agriculture industry, noting that the nation's growth model is "approaching its environmental limits".

    Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the report reinforces what has been known for quite some time.

    "I think everybody acknowledges that we are now rubbing up against New Zealand's environmental limits in term of what we can do but the important thing is that there are actually pathways out of this," he said.

    "There are higher value forms of agriculture that are less intensive in terms of stocking rates, less pollution into both water and into the air, where farmers actually make more money."

    The report, which follows one in 2007, found 49 per cent of New Zealand's greenhouse gases are coming from agriculture, the highest share of any OECD country.

    But it said the Emissions Trading Scheme - the main vehicle for New Zealand to meet its environmental targets - excluded farms.

    It has been suggested New Zealand farmers reduce herd sizes by as much as 35 per cent, but Prime Minister Bill English said that's not something the government is contemplating.

    "Part of our definition of unsustainability is a sustainable economy, sustainable communities and families and so we're not willing to make rules that slash our agricultural community," he said.

    Labour say they're not anti-intensification but leader Andrew Little said it's no secret New Zealand needs better farming practices to manage nitrates and land use, and their impacts on the water systems.

    The party's environment spokesman David Parker said any intensification of land use is going to pollute waterways unless it's done properly.

    "We've just said if you're going to do it you've just got to have appropriate setbacks with fences, planting and you've got to make sure you're not putting on so much fertiliser or livestock effluent that it's washing into rivers," he said.

    The report also found Kiwis had the highest rate of car ownership in the OECD, and that the fleet was old and inefficient, making it the country's second large source of emissions.

    "New Zealand needs to ensure its climate policies are effective in curbing emissions in all sectors, notably transport and agriculture," OECD environment director, and former New Zealand environment minister, Simon Upton said.

    The report made 50 recommendations, saying it appeared New Zealand's growth was starting to harm its environment, including freshwater quality.

    "New Zealand's growth model, based largely on exploiting natural resources, is starting to show its environmental limits with increasing greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution."

    Massey University Centre for Energy Research director Ralph Sims says the report is a "fail grade".

    "Surely by now the government must have received the message, loud and clear, that we are not doing our fair share to prevent the global temperature rising above a level where we will all be worse off," Professor Sims said.

    © 2017 NZN, NZCity


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