July 2022 Newsletter - Dutch courage for New Zealand?

We know we have a problem with nitrogen and nitrous oxide in New Zealand and we’re working on it. But whatever we’re doing doesn’t match what they’re doing in the Netherlands. Three years ago they introduced legislation to reduce these climate-damaging compounds wherever they are produced – on farms, by vehicles and in construction.

  • Dutch farmers have to reduce nitrogen levels by 50% by 2030 – or lose their farms. They aren’t happy of course and have protested by blocking motorways with their tractors.
  • Dutch agriculture is described as having to make an “unavoidable transition.” To soften the blow the government has allocated 24.3 billion euros to help farmers drastically reduce animal numbers. This small country of 17.5 million people, 4 million intensively farmed cattle and 12 million pigs is the second largest exporter of agricultural products, after the US.
  • Some Dutch scientists and environmental groups propose a gradual transition to a system of “circular” agriculture: farms should only produce as much manure as they can use for fertilizer; cattle numbers should be limited to the available pasture; pigs and poultry should eat food waste.
  • Nitrous oxide also comes from car exhausts and any machinery that is fossil-fueled.

Thus the Netherlands’ government drastically reduced permits for construction projects and this affected housing. Now, a reduced speed limit on motorways from 130kmh to 100kmh has brought sufficient reductions of N2O to allow permits for 75,000 new houses – giving a “respite for the housing crisis”!

https://www.science.org/content/article/nitrogen-crisis-jam-packed-livestock-operations-has-paralyzed-dutch-economy for more information.

That last point brings us back home. The amount of oil we used declined during the oil crisis of the 1970s when speed limits were reduced. Car-free days were introduced – with limited success. But digital number plate recognition would make avoiding detection more difficult. We would shop less frequently, more children would walk to school, people would ride-share – and our N2O levels would be lower.

Transport is the focus of the PSA’s “Vote Climate” campaign for the upcoming local body elections, which launched on July 6 - public transport and transport between towns and cities. Transport is responsible for 21% of NZ’s total emissions and 51% of energy-related emissions.

You can support this campaign by seeking out your local candidates, expressing to them your fears about Climate and your fears for your children’s futures. Organise neighbourly events where friends can express their Climate concerns and demand appropriate policies at the local level.

Make sure you are enrolled to vote: www.vote.nz. The turnout for local body elections is an abysmal 42%.

Here are the details for our next webinar:


Living Within Biophysical Limits: green growth versus degrowth

By Jonathan Boston, ONZM

Date: 10 August, 2022 

Time: 7:00 to 8:30 PM     [NOTE EARLIER START TIME]

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 810 8833 4428
Passcode: 264461

Kia kaha katoa!

Pat Baskett and the Our Climate Declaration Team

PS The recording of the July 6 webinar Growing the Grass Roots is now available on our website. Sorry for the delay.