New Zealand: Farmers demonstrate against a planned tax on cow farts

New Zealand: Farmers demonstrate against a planned tax on cow farts

Farmers, some with tractors, demonstrated Thursday in major New Zealand cities against a government plan to tax greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

Convoys of farm machinery arrived in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and several other cities across the archipelago, and participants called on the centre-left government to drop plans to tax “farts and burps” emitted by livestock farming .

Last week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a plan to introduce such a tax in what would be a world first.

Gases like methane, emitted naturally in the farts and burps of New Zealand’s 6.2 million cows and 26 million sheep, and the nitrous oxide found in cattle’s urine are among the country’s biggest environmental problems.

Methane is less abundant and doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, but it is a much larger contributor to global warming.

This chemical compound, scientists estimate, is responsible for around 30% of global warming since the industrial revolution, despite making up only a fraction of the composition of the greenhouse gas.

This tax is necessary to slow down climate change, argued Ms. Adern. It could even benefit farmers who can sell more expensive meat because it respects the climate.

But “we won’t accept that,” protested the farmers. Thousands of farm workers joined Thursday’s protest to denounce the law.

“The government’s ideological commitment to punitive and counterproductive taxes on emissions (from) agricultural production threatens the very existence of rural communities,” said Bryan McKenzie of Groundswell NZ, the organization behind the demonstration.

Environmentalists say New Zealand farmers are caught in the crossfire.

“This country’s rural and agricultural sector has been hit hard by floods, violent storms and droughts this year alone,” said Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki.

“The situation is getting worse and worse. Farmers can either adapt and reduce their emissions quickly, or suffer more like everyone else,” she lamented.


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