New Zealand's 'green' image under threat: OECD

March 21, 2017
Views like this—of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, with the Remarkables mountain range in the background—are one of the reasons tourists flock to New Zealand. But strong economic growth is placing strains on the environment, the OECD is warning

New Zealand's strong economic growth is placing strains on the environment that threaten to undermine its "clean, green" reputation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned Tuesday.

The South Pacific nation has long marketed itself internationally as "100 percent pure" and is undergoing a tourism boom as visitors flock to see the spectacular scenery featured in films such as "The Hobbit" trilogy.

But an OECD said the environment was paying the price for growth in the farm-reliant economy, which is currently among the strongest in the developed world at more than 3.0 percent.

It said intensive dairy farming had left many rivers with elevated nitrogen levels, making them vulnerable to .

The report, the result of a once-in-a-decade review, also noted that New Zealand had one of the worst rates of species extinction in the world.

In addition, per capita were the fifth highest in the OECD and rising, while emissions in most other countries were on the decline.

The report said government plans to double agricultural exports by 2025 were set to worsen the problems.

"New Zealand's growth model has begun to show its environmental limits, with increased greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation, freshwater contamination and threats to biodiversity," the report said.

"This may indicate that New Zealand's strong growth has come partly at the expense of environmental quality, a dynamic that puts the country's 'green' reputation at risk."

It recommended Wellington strengthen its trading scheme and expand it to agriculture, which is currently exempted even though it accounts for half of the country's emissions.

Environment Minister Nick Smith welcomed the report and said the government was already working on many of the issues it raised.

"This environmental report card will help us sharpen our future direction and environmental aspirations, as well as learn from the experiences of other countries," he said.

Explore further: OECD warns Brazil on environment, economy risks

Related Stories

OECD warns on fishing capacity as Asia share grows

October 14, 2015

Years of overfishing have cut OECD countries' productive capacity while Chinese-led consumption growth has shifted production focus to Asia, a report by the Paris-based organisation said Wednesday.

Carbon tax could lower emissions and GST

July 22, 2016

A new, powerful way of modelling the impact of carbon pricing has been developed by University of Auckland doctoral researcher Sina Mashinchi. It shows how a carbon tax targeting emissions-intensive industries, along with ...

World food output growth to slow: UN/OECD

June 6, 2013

Growth in global agricultural production is expected to slow in the coming decade, the UN food agency and the OECD said in a joint report Thursday, warning threats to food security remain.

Report finds freshwater life is on the way out

August 17, 2015

The majority of New Zealand's freshwater species are disappearing. That's the message of the Society for Conservation Biology's new report, which two of New Zealand's leading freshwater ecologists Massey University's Dr Mike ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.