On the one-year anniversary of Jacinda Ardern’s Climate Emergency declaration, Greenpeace has positioned a cheeky, four storey high, crowdfunded “climate emergency to-do list” on a wall near Parliament in Wellington.
“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to have lost her climate emergency to-do list, so we’ve written it out for her, made it ginormous, and put it somewhere it can’t be missed,” says Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner Christine Rose. “The climate to-do list is urgent: a cleaner, low-emissions Aotearoa is still possible, but only if we act now.”
The giant hand-written note signed ‘Aroha, Greenpeace’ acknowledges the Labour-led Government’s 2018 decision to end new offshore oil exploration and gives a wry nod to Ardern’s claim that climate change was her generation’s nuclear free moment. It then lists three key climate actions the Government has failed to implement: cutting synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, reducing cow numbers and backing farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming.
“The recent ‘COP26’ climate change conference came with stark reminders that, as bad as the COVID-19 pandemic is, the impacts of runaway climate change will be far worse,” says Rose.
“We recognise that the Prime Minister has had a lot on her plate, but it’s also clear that New Zealand is a global laggard on climate, mostly because this Government has failed to tackle our biggest climate polluter: intensive dairy and the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser companies – Ravensdown and Ballance – that drive it.
“Four years into this Labour Government, we’re still waiting for the climate leadership that was promised. The Zero Carbon Act is toothless, the Emissions Trading Scheme still gives agriculture a free pass, and synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that drives intensive dairying still hasn’t been phased out. Instead of doing what is needed to reduce emissions in Aotearoa, the Government has earmarked billions of dollars for offshore carbon offsetting scams that do little more than kick the climate can down the road. And the draft, long-delayed Emissions Reduction Plan isn’t worthy of its name: instead of a real plan with the obvious policies that are needed to reduce emissions, it just asks us all for more ideas for reducing emissions.
“It’s not more ideas that we need – it’s action – and for New Zealand, action on climate means action on the dairy industry: our biggest polluter. We have to cut synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and we have to reduce cow numbers.”
The note ends with a footnote saying that the billboard is Greenpeace’s submission on the draft Emissions Reduction Plan.
“The Ardern government acknowledged a year ago that we’re in a climate emergency but has continued to give the dairy and chemical fertiliser companies a free pass to profit from pollution. To regain any credibility on climate change, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern must take urgent action to reduce dairy emissions by banning synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, reducing cow numbers and backing farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming,” says Rose.