Freshwater pollution and increasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are among the biggest challenges New Zealand’s environment faces, says a new review.
The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has made 50 recommendations in its third environmental performance review.
It said New Zealand’s economic growth model was approaching its environmental limits.
Among its concerns were irrigation, the Emissions Trading Scheme, transport taxes and declining biodiversity.
The OECD recommended the government review its support for irrigation, saying 75 percent of the country’s water was used for the practice and freshwater was scarce in some regions.
Nitrogen in waterways had increased in step with the growth in dairy herds, and water quality continued to deteriorate in some regions due to agricultural and urban run-off.
The OECD report said gross emissions of greenhouse gasses in New Zealand increased by 6 percent between 2000 and 2014, compared to a 5 percent reduction in the OECD as a whole.
Nearly half of those emissions came from agriculture, the highest share in the OECD.
It said a clear date needed to be set to include agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme, or alternative pricing and regulatory measures should be introduced.
In terms of biodiversity, the OECD said species extinction rates in New Zealand were among the highest in the world.
More than half of amphibians – and roughly a third of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles – were threatened.
Extracted from a report by Kate Gudsell, Environment & Conservation Reporter at Radio New Zealand, on 21 March 2017 – http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/327086/nz’s-economic-growth-model-pushing-environmental-limits-report