Farmers were hit on Thursday in major New Zealand cities against a government plan to tax greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. Convoys of agricultural machinery converged on Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and several other towns in the archipelago, with participants calling on the centre-left government to drop plans to tax ‘pets and rots’ emitted by livestock .
Last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed a plan to introduce such a tax, which was a world first. Gas, such as methane, emitted naturally in the form of farts and rots by New Zealand’s 6.2 million cows and 26 million sheep, as well as the nitrous oxide contained in the urine of cattle, are among the country’s biggest environmental problems.
Methane is less abundant and does not stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, but it is a much more powerful contributor to global warming. This chemical compound is responsible for about 30% of global warming since the Industrial Revolution, scientists estimate, although it only accounts for a fraction of the composition of the greenhouse gas.
This tax is necessary to slow climate change, argued Jacinda Adern. It could even benefit farmers, who could thus sell meat that is more expensive because it respects the climate. But “we are not going to accept it”, are indignant the farmers.
Thousands of agricultural workers joined Thursday’s protest to decry the bill. “The government’s ideological commitment to punitive and counterproductive taxes on emissions (from) agricultural production threatens the existence of rural communities,” said Bryan McKenzie of Groundswell NZ, the organization behind of this demonstration.