Date: 02 Dec 2020
Author: The Vegan Society Aotearoa
The world is rapidly running out of time to act on climate change and yet still our leaders dally. New Zealand is failing to meet it’s Paris Agreement and rapidly falling off the list of countries taking effective climate action. As New Zealand’s emissions are overwhelmingly from agriculture, it follows that this is where we can and must take action. Reducing our dairy herds and increasing our cropping, horticulture and forestry outputs would go some way towards helping to reduce our emissions.
On 10th May 2019, the Vegan Society Aotearoa called on the government to declare a climate emergency. Here we are some 18 months later and everything has become a lot worse. New Zealand has now fallen so far behind our commitments to the Paris Agreement that it is unlikely that we will be asked to this year’s climate summit talks, Sprint to Glasgow, in the lead up to next year’s COP26. Even if the Labour government actually follows through and declares a climate emergency later today, there is little point if there is no action behind it, making some tough calls.
Meanwhile thousands of individuals are taking matters into their own hands by reducing the amount of meat and dairy that they eat, many taking a vegan challenge;
- Bay of Plenty Regional Council has Low Carb-on catering in all public buildings,
- The Tauranga Bay Hospital Level One Cafe follows Meat Free Mondays
- Marae are offering vegan kai, following Turangawaewae marae which started this a few years ago.
- Not only is eating plant-based good for the planet, it is good for human health too.
- The Ministry of Health current eating guidelines recommend a reduction of meat and dairy intake
- the Heart Foundation also currently recommends similar reductions.
- Most Cancer Societies worldwide recognise the role that animal products play in increasing our risk of cancer.
“We applaud the government declaring a climate emergency, even at this late stage, however if there continues to be no action on reducing our emissions, it is a hollow declaration.” Claire Insley, spokesperson for the Vegan Society said, “We need to reduce our ruminant herds and as dairying is our largest and most polluting industry, it makes sense that this should be where reductions begin. Our energy and transport emissions are low in comparison, but our continual push to increase the dairy herds has led to us becoming the second largest emitter by percentage of the Annex 1 countries. This is not where we want to be!”
Only the countries most committed to action on climate change are asked to the talks and this year with New Zealand not only failing to reduce carbon emissions, but actually increasing them, we are far down the list indeed. Of the 43 Annex 1 countries, only 12 have failed to make reductions, we have in fact the second largest increase in emissions, a bigger percentage than even the USA. Our tagline of Clean and Green NZ has never been a bigger lie than at this moment. New Zealand has said a lot, but done very little to actually reduce our emissions, the biggest percentage of which come from the agricultural industry, which is not even included in the Emissions Trading Scheme. To that end we are running a petition calling on the government to help support those forward thinking farmers who want to diversify and start the transition towards plant-based agriculture. It is clear that doing nothing is not an option for the future of humanity.