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Farmers in New Zealand took to the streets of the country’s major cities Thursday to protest against the government’s plans to implement a tax on greenhouse emissions from farm animals, Agence France-Presse reported.
Convoys of tractors, SUVs and other farming vehicles disrupted traffic in Wellington and other important hubs, as farmers brandished signs criticizing the so-called “burp and fart” tax.
Earlier this month, the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a “world first” levy on emissions of methane and nitrous oxide produced by cows and sheep in New Zealand.
Officials said the tax aims to tackle climate change and will reduce livestock emissions by 20 percent. They added that farmers could benefit from the levy if they can charge more for climate-friendly meat.
However, protesting farmers countered that the tax was “punitive” and “an existential threat to rural communities.” They noted that the emission curbs will raise the cost of food.
The nationwide demonstrations received support from urban residents and those in a number of municipalities from New Zealand’s remote West Coast regions.
The new tariff would particularly target methane, a greenhouse gas that – although less abundant than carbon dioxide – is a stronger warming agent.
Despite being a minor component of the greenhouse gas mix, scientists believe methane is responsible for around 30 percent of the global temperature rise.