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Climate activists on removing agriculture from the Emissions Trading Scheme

26 June, 2024

Interviews by Rawan Saadi and Oto Sequiera, adapted by James Russell

Spokesperson for Greenpeace Aotearoa, Niamh O’Flynn, says the government’s new Pastoral Sector Group is a ‘‘fox in charge of the henhouse situation’’.

Delivering on National’s election promises, the coalition government confirmed it would remove agricultural emissions from the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2025.

Included in this announcement was the immediate disestablishment of Labour’s He Waka Eke Noa, a partnership to reduce primary sector emissions, in favour of a Pastoral Sector Group composed of pastoral sector representatives engaging directly with the government to reduce emissions without reducing production or export rates for farms.

Greenpeace spokesperson, Niamh O’Flynn, told 95bFM’s The Wire that the new Pastoral Sector Group is a “fox in charge of the henhouse situation’’.

“We don’t know a lot of details about the new pastoral sector group, but what it sounds like is an industry group basically in charge of deciding how it cuts its own emissions”.

With the agricultural sector accounting for nearly half of Aotearoa’s total greenhouse gas emissions, O’Flynn said the group’s establishment is a clear-cut message from the government that our country’s largest polluters have a free pass to avoid climate accountability. 

‘‘We know we’re in a climate crisis…and the National-led government… has really made it clear that the biggest polluters - industrial dairy, like Fonterra, and new oil and gas exploration - are free to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer.”

“The cost of that will end up landing on people like you and me’’.

In a separate interview, Green Party MP Ricardo Menéndez-March told 95bFM’s The Wire that the turnout of the recent March For Nature in Auckland’s city centre showed the government that New Zealanders opposed their changes to environmental policies.

“Continuous bulldozing of environmental protections will actually damage their popularity, and this is why people showing up to the streets is a good way to send a message to a government that is refusing to listen to the evidence.”

When asked about Chris Bishop’s claims that previous resource consenting laws made it more difficult to reduce carbon emissions, Menéndez-March referred to this as a ‘‘greenwashing’’ tactic. 

“The government has made it clear that they intend to use the fast-track consenting process for things like coal mines and other related projects”.

“You can’t build a few solar panels and wind farms here and there while opening up to then mine more coal and guess when the evidence tells us we need to move away from it”. 

“We can’t have an economy on a dead planet.’’

Regarding the exclusion of agriculture and methane gas emissions from the ETS, Menéndez-March said that the government’s actions condoned those of million-dollar businesses with dormant resources under their belt. 

‘‘They know they have the resources to move to more sustainable consumer practices, but they won’t do it for long if they’ve got a government that is happy to let them get away with polluting our rivers.’’

Listen to the full interview with Niamh O’Flynn here:

Listen to the full interview with Ricardo Menéndez-March here: