Wellington Scoop

Too many cows: Greenpeace climbers unfurl climate crisis banner on Fertiliser Assn building

banner by Greenpeace

News from Greenpeace
Greenpeace activists have this morning scaled the office building of the Fertiliser Association in Wellington, to highlight the role of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser in driving industrial dairying and furthering the climate crisis.

Five climbers began their occupation of the front of the building at 7am this morning, and have unfurled a huge banner containing the names of the 30,000 New Zealanders who have signed a petition calling on the Government to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

Around half a million tonnes of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is used in New Zealand every year. It’s primarily used by the dairy industry to accelerate grass growth and ramp up cow numbers.

Greenpeace agriculture campaigner Gen Toop says phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and reducing cow numbers is key to meaningful climate action.

“We can all see the devastation occurring worldwide from more frequent and intense fires, floods and extreme weather. The climate crisis is on our doorstep, and industrial dairying is New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter,” Toop says.

“Synthetic fertiliser fuels industrial dairying and too many cows, causing the climate crisis to worsen, polluting our rivers and contaminating our drinking water.”

The Fertiliser Association is the lobby group for the two agri-chemical companies, Ravensdown and Ballance, that sell 98% of all the fertiliser used in New Zealand. (1)

“For decades, governments of all stripes have failed to deal with NZ’s biggest climate polluter – industrial dairying. And we know that lobby groups like the Fertiliser Association have had an influence on that.

“We can’t keep allowing synthetic fertiliser companies to make a quick buck off trashing our planet. There are already farmers who have ditched these companies and the synthetic fertiliser they’re selling and shifted to regenerative farming instead.”

Earlier this year the Government announced a cap on synthetic fertiliser use of 190kg per hectare, which will come into force mid next year. Toop says that in the midst of a worsening climate crisis, that new cap simply doesn’t cut it.

“30,000 people have called on the Government to ban synthetic fertiliser – and they won’t be the last. With just a couple of weeks until this election, any political party serious about the climate crisis must commit to phasing out synthetic fertiliser.”


  1. Melanie Vautier, 1. October 2020, 10:59

    This isn’t against farming – it’s highlighting dangerous fertiliser practises in Aotearoa. Fertilisers are like a drug – they give a short boost, while causing disastrous side effects and making soil reliant on another ‘hit’. Awesome from Greenpeace drawing attention to this issue. [via twitter]

  2. TrevorH, 1. October 2020, 16:37

    Without fertilisers, far fewer people would be able to be fed. Greenpeace’s ideology is anti-human.

  3. Dave B (Wellington), 1. October 2020, 22:33

    I often wonder how much food goes to waste in our profligate world. How much gets discarded or never reaches hungry mouths because of supply-economics? How much less fertiliser could farmers manage with if lower production was able to stretch further with more-efficient processing, lower pricing and better distribution? And what if this could only be achieved at the expense of profits? Is the real problem our economic system? I have no answers, I am only asking. And are carbon-emissions from cows really such a problem? The thing about cows is they consume carbon from the eco-system and they return it to the eco-system. They are not like cars which consume carbon that has lain safely buried for millenia, then liberate it into the eco-system. Cows convert carbon from vegetation into methane which is a potent “greenhouse gas”, but this naturally reverts to carbon dioxide after 10 years or so – potentially to be reabsorbed by plant-growth again. So, no extra carbon added to the eco-system. Are we perhaps missing the deeper causes of our environmental problems?

  4. Violet, 3. October 2020, 10:23

    Synthetic fertilizers kill the soil bacteria and make it increasingly harder to grow food. Too many cows kill the wildlife in our waterways and make the water toxic to humans. The answer is less animal farming and changing to regenerative farming methods.

  5. bsmith, 5. October 2020, 10:16

    sounds like a good idea violet, if you want to starve the world’s population


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