Marsden Point refinery

If you don’t think climate change will affect you in cozy, cloistered Hawke’s Bay anytime soon, think again.

Forces well beyond our control as individual consumers are pushing our economies in one certain direction … and that’s toward de-carbonisation and lower GHG footprints, including biogenic methane (think cows).

Our consumer options are being defined for us by corporate and institutional decision-makers who see the handwriting on the wall.

Take cars and utes for example. 

You can trash electric vehicles (EVs) all you want, but the day will occur in the next 10-15 years when you will have no alternative to an EV (other than a horse) because those are all that will be manufactured. Here’s a chart showing the plans of leading vehicle manufacturers:

All other manufacturers have close-out targets for their internal combustion engine vehicles, trucks included. So, get over it!

*Stellantis owns Chrysler, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, Jeep, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and others.

And here in New Zealand, the powers that be have decided to end all oil and gas refining. This decision was taken for the Marsden Point refinery by its principal shareholders – Mobil, BP and Z Energy … not Greenpeace!

That takes care of fuel for cars. What about cows … red meat?

Americans are presently eating plenty of it, and China’s keeping the market afloat. 

But here too the times are a-changin.

Our BayBuzz Food Survey back in January found that 69% were reducing red meat in their diets, here in the sheep and beef heartland. We asked: ‘Are you reducing your red meat consumption for health or environmental reasons?’

  • 31% responded ‘No’
  • 43% said ‘Yes, but it’s not a big deal’
  • 13% said ‘Yes, it’s a real dietary priority for me’
  • 12% said ‘I already eat no red meat’

And every major international voice of authority is urging us to do just that, backed by billions of dollars now invested in developing alternative protein foods.

This month, the UN will convene a Food Systems Summit of world leaders. To inform it, a Scientific Group was commissioned to provide the evidence base for deliberations, and synthesized more than 50 reports on the planet’s ability to meet human food requirements.

This research (as reported in Nature) identified seven priorities for meeting future needs. Embedded in the recommendations are much more emphasis on aquatic foods and other sources of protein. “Alternative sources of healthy protein need to be advanced, such as plant-based and insect-derived proteins, including for animal feed.”

So again, like it or not, our fundamental choices are being made by large institutions with global perspective. Arguing over nitrate limits in local waterways (Labour Government says this, Fed Farmers say that), as important as that might be today to some farmers, is not to change the larger direction of travel one iota. We are the tail on the dog.

There will not be a global revival of red meat the next time the National Party and/or ACT sweep to power. Just as there will not be a fresh market for petrol cars (well, maybe junked cars sent to die here by the First World).

The times, they are a-changin, and those changes will affect our lifestyles, businesses and future pathways to prosperity right here in Hawke’s Bay sooner than we might think.

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    1. Oh joy. Some balance at last. Yes, we have reduced our red meat intake. But, we are much more frugal in our use of our petrol driven car, we are much more careful of the amount of waste we generate and how we dispose of it, we take care of the amount of electricity we use and we try to get maximum use out of consumer goods by repairing rather than replacing (if we can). But some of these areas depend on the ‘big boys’ modifying their behaviours and expectations.

  1. Enough already! Ruminants have been part of this world for 10s of millions of years before humans, in far greater numbers than exist today. (All humans are good at is killing stuff).
    Ruminants do not cut down any rain forest nor do they congregate themselves in feed lots. That is purely human mis-management of our beautiful and ecologically diverse planet.
    If cows cause global warming then so do grasslands and all the 10s of thousands of associated species. ” Kill ’em all” is the vegan battle cry.
    That ruminant biogenic methane is 80% of NZ emissions is BS. It is only so because only it and waste is counted. All the methane from wetlands and forests is excluded purely because influential vegans at the IPCC managed to classify wetland and forest emissions as natural and grasslands (remember all those associated species) as man made. Globally it is roughly a third, a third and a third. NZ can’t do joined up writing as it wrings its hands over enteric sources of methane whilst at the same time advocating for the restoration of wetlands. Other name for methane is marsh gas, a far more potent source. What quantity do you imagine the West Coast forests produce? Is draining them your next proposal?
    No one ever considers what the ecological function of ruminants is. Surely a pre-requisite before deciding to slaughter them. That function is so crucial that absent ruminants and nearly 5 billion hectares are added to the 2 billion hectares of desert man has already created. Where do you suppose the infra red heat that the GHGs absorb comes from? (Bare ground). Action it and we are toast. Trees cannot perform the ecological function of ruminants. I’m not saying what it is because anyone advocating for slaughter should have done their own research.
    Our discussion has not advanced from kill cows and plant pines, so much so that continuing to advocate for it is trivialising what is meant to be an existential crisis. The Climate Commission is all about fraudulent carbon accounting to meet NDC.
    Focussing on selected parts of the living carbon cycle is nutty reductionism……the exact same thinking that got us to crisis point. We need to regenerate more life to employ redundant atmospheric carbon not less. If you truly want to live in an environment of low natural emissions, go live in the desert or hitch a lift with a billionaire to the moon.

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