Greta Thunberg

15th November 2021

As the latest round of Cop talks ends, with many pledges made but no real action plans in place, it seems as if once again, it is business as usual for the main culprits.

It is only through action that a sustainable future is possible and with NZ winning Fossil of the Day at Cop again, it is clear that NZ’s emissions and lack of action are part of the problem.

Over 140 governments have pledges to reach net zero, but only a small number of these have adequate policies, covering just a small percentage of the global emissions.

Climate Action Tracker Chief Executive Bill Hare noted “If they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action,”

Based on what countries have put on the table for 2030, the world is set to warm by 2.4ºC by 2100. If every country implemented their long-term net zeroes, then 1.8ºC could indeed be possible.

But the reality is that, without a serious plan for 2030, most of these longer-term goals will not be realised.

Big Oil and in NZ, Big Ag are actively creating loopholes for their business as usual approach.

There is no more time for business as usual

We have only 8 seasons left to prevent total biosphere collapse. 30 years of inaction has already locked in 1.5ºC, the previous declared maximum warming to prevent climate chaos.

Greta Thunberg said “Some people say that we are too radical but the truth is that they are the ones who are radical. Fighting to save our life supporting systems isn’t radical at all. Believing that our civilisation as we know it can survive a 2.7º or 3ºC hotter world on the other hand isn’t only extremely radical, it’s pure madness.”

Many industry representatives and campaigners feel not enough attention has been paid to food and farming at Cop26, despite it being one of the keys to cutting emissions over the next few decades.

In terms of individual action, moving to a more plant-based diet is one of the single most effective ways to reduce emissions, but governments appear to be unwilling to put the science on this issue into policy.

Vegan Society spokesperson Claire Insley said “It’s so much easier for us to find a different thing to eat now, than to find another planet to live on in 8 years time when this one becomes uninhabitable! We need government support to help farmers diversify and transition towards growing more plants, and we have a petition asking for this. We need a massive reduction in the ruminant herds, especially dairy, the sooner we can phase out animal agriculture, the quicker our planet can start to recover”

None of the presidents of the UK’s four farming unions present at Cop26 believe they should reduce livestock numbers in their respective countries, or that people need to reduce their meat consumption.

A view that is echoed very loudly here in NZ, it is a very dangerous and blinkered view and one that will see NZ’s famers at a disadvantage in the very near future, as global populations choose to eat less meat and dairy.

A recent UN report concluded that almost 90% of the $540bn of global agricultural subsidies given to farmers destroy nature and fuel the climate crisis. The report found redirecting subsidies to beneficial farming practices could be a “game changer”, yet there was little mention of them in the leaders’ speeches at Cop26.

While many industries like coal and gas might have felt positive about not being included in the Cop26 programme, many farmers feel they can make a real difference.

“What is baffling for us, is why farming is not on the table with negotiators,” says Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU). “By focusing on other areas and not focusing on food and agriculture you are running away from the problem, and that’s where solutions with the greatest impact are going to be.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

You can make a submission to the NZ government’s Emissions Reduction Plan before 24th November. Read more about it here

You can sign and share the petition calling for the government to incentivise farmers to diversify and transition towards plant-based agriculture.