Press Council rules on climate change article

by David Hastings  27 March 2010

This complaint concerns one story in a climate change feature published in the New Zealand Herald on December 5, 2009 and also online, on the same date. The complaint is upheld.

The complaint

Robin Grieve, Chairman, Pastoral Farming Climate Research, was not objecting to the overall tenor of the reports themselves; rather he was upset about one part of the secondary report under the main heading "In search of low-carbon nirvana".

His complaint focused on its references to the impact of agriculture on New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions. The report said: "In 2007 agriculture produced 36.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases - 48 per cent of New Zealand's total emissions."

It also said about two-thirds of the emissions were from methane produced by sheep and cattle, with the remaining third from nitrous oxide, mainly from animal waste.

It said that "worse still, in terms of climate change, these gases are far more detrimental than CO2". It went on to say methane is deemed to be 25 times more damaging than a tonne of CO2.

Mr Grieve said the claim about 36.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases was factually incorrect and grossly overstated agriculture's greenhouse gas contribution.

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