Greenpeace calls for halving the herd following IPCC report


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released it’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land. It is the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever done on food, farming, land and climate change.

It points to an urgent need to revamp the global food system away from industrial meat and dairy and to protect and restore forests as two key solutions to the escalating climate crisis.

Greenpeace says the report should serve as the defining moment for this Government, a clarion call for immediate action to curb emissions from New Zealand’s biggest polluters, the dairy and agricultural industries.

“This report makes the science crystal clear. Industrial dairy and livestock farming are a major driver of the climate crisis,” says Greenpeace agricultural campaigner Gen Toop.

“If this Government is serious about climate action, it must halve the herd, ban synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and invest significantly in a shift to plant-based regenerative farming.”

TDB Recommends

The IPCC report found that agriculture, forestry and other types of land use now account for 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is estimated to be up to as high as 37% of if the emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the food system are included

Increased ruminant livestock numbers and increased use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser were found to be key drivers of these emissions. Dairy cow numbers in NZ have nearly doubled since the 1990’s and the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser has increased 600%. The dairy industry is now emitting more climate pollution than NZ’s entire transport fleet.

The report also stresses that if treated well, land can be a sink for carbon dioxide and an important tool to fight climate change.

“Land and how it’s used can either be a cause of the climate crisis or a solution to it,” says Toop.

“Either we continue on with industrial dairying and we worsen the climate crisis, or this Government can make the right choice; to halve the herd, drive a nationwide transition to plant-based regenerative farming and increase native afforestation.”

Alarmingly, the report found that global temperature rise is already leading to more heatwaves, droughts and heavy precipitation, as well as land degradation and desertification and this is impacting global food security.

“Climate change is already impacting land, livelihoods, biodiversity, health, infrastructure, and food security. This will only worsen if action isn’t taken now.”

“The Government is consulting the public on how it should deal with agricultural emissions. But it has proposed a set of weak and incremental changes that now need a complete overhaul in light of this IPCC report.”

Greenpeace is encouraging the public to submit on the Government’s “Action on agricultural emissions” consultation, which closes next Tuesday at 5pm, through a submission tool on its website.

The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) is available at A Fact Sheet and Headline Statements are available at

NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions profile


  1. All good, to report this to us.

    While dairy herds have increased, so has the human population, here in New Zealand, and worldwide.

    So why the call to reduce only the number of animals, who also have rights to life (ask SAFE), and why ignore the ever increasing human population?

    I would hate to have this take place, but what alternatives will there be?

  2. Marc the alternative is that we don’t eat animals. Simple.
    Plant based diet for humans takes less land. less water, less oil, less fertiliser and much much lass pollution.
    Its a no brainer.
    Human population has to shrink and will shrink to a group of survivors as we grapple with the consequences of present and past stupidity.

    What part of overshoot is hard to comprehend.

    Human wants or comforts are not a measure of sustainability or what the planet can keep providing.

    • But we are designed to eat at least some animals, we originate from HUNTERS and gatherers. Also are there a range of nutrients in meat that are very hard to replace through a purely plant based diet.

      While I respect people’s choices and some choosing a purely plant based diet, we can hardly expect that governments will tell people that they will not be allowed to eat meat.

      • The human gut is not designed to eat meat. There are many communities around the world that have lived on plant based diet for centuries and have little of our Western diseases.
        It is a myth that we need animal protein. Humans make their own protein from essential nutrients found in a variety of plant based foods.

        Yes it would appear Humans can eat some animal products when survival depends on it but the results are not good longer term

        • human teeth, stomach, gut and other organs are well designed for eating both meat and plant foods, also fish, of course.

          • We could go on but basically the gut is billions of various bacteria and organisms which break down the food. As different material is eaten then the gut population changes it balance of organism and some foods actually do damage to this balance. The gut is tied in with the immune system so diet has a lot to do with how the immune system functions.

            Communities that base their diet on plant foods have little cancer, heart disease, auto immune diseases like diabetes and MS.
            Communities that have animal products in their diet have higher rates of cancer, diabetes and immune system disorders generally. Countries that have high rates of dairy consumption have high rates of osteoporosis and many other disorders. Dairy fed babies have a damaged gut for life..
            We live in a country that promotes its products even though much of the promotion is not challenged publicly.
            Milk builds health bones – bullshit. Milk actually robs bones of calcium.
            The damage done by meat in the human diet is now getting some exposure after years of myths about it being good for you.

            Common folk from the British Ilse coming to NZ as early settlers left a life where meat may have been had once or twice a years depending on wealth and position.
            When in NZ they were amazed at meat being eaten once a week.
            The marketeers have working hard to have Kiwis eating as they do but Cancer and heart disease, auto immune diseases have all risen in frequency.
            If we shifted to a plant based diet filled with a good variety of fruit nuts and vegetables we would be a healthier community.
            The largest survey of disease and lifestyle ever done was across China with many hundreds of millions of cases followed up by a more controlled international study over 20 years of 6500 cases shows the contrast between plant based diet and diets that contain animal products.The plant based eaters are relatively free of our “Western” diseases.
            The best iron source is fresh leafy green vegetables not heme iron in meat as the myth promotes.
            The TV program about avoiding cancer run recently would be worth you or any one watching

Comments are closed.