Exchange this! NZ horticulturalist is fired up about carbon

Craig Foss is madder than hell. And who has caught the ire of this New Zealander? The Times of London, for running a table suggesting that British wine consumers could switch from New Zealand wines to French wine to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Times had the audacity to reproduce a table from the new book The Low Carbon Diet by Polly Ghazi and Rachel Lewis. In it, the authors suggest that such a wine switch would reduce carbon usage by 0.068kg/bottle. That’s in an overall annual diet of 10,000 kg of carbon consumption.

Why should the world care if Craig Foss is mad? He’s New Zealand’s opposition National Party horticultural spokesman, people! Do try to keep up.

So let’s help Foss channel his anger correctly:

1. Get mad at Ghazi and Lewis first, then the Times.

2. While Brits may care about the carbon footprint, British wine drinkers don’t really care about it (yet). Heck, they don’t even care about organic and biodynamic according to a recent study. Maybe focus on that shade of green instead of transport.

3. Don’t get mad, get even. The fact is, New Zealand is always going to be a long boat ride (note: not air) from the UK. So how about making a push for kiwi growers to all become sustainable and swear off synthetic fertilizers and pesticides? That would make the long sea voyage a wash. Now that’s something eco-conscious wine drinkers could raise a glass to (once they become eco-conscious, that is–see point two).

“Carbon footprint puts boot into wine” [NZ Herald]
“Low carbon diet masterplan” [The Times UK, pdf]

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6 Responses to “Exchange this! NZ horticulturalist is fired up about carbon”

  1. My impression is that the NZ wine industry is pretty progressive. I believe they were the first to create a comprehensive sustainability program ( Seems like the biggest thing the industry could do would be to move away from shipping in glass, no?

  2. Yes, NZ is pretty green. But why not shoot for all green? Probably practically impossible but it would be great for Brand New Zealand.

    And yes, James, shipping in bulk is definitely a possibility but I worry about quality. As the discussion over here reveals, it may not be counter to quality entirely. But how much carbon does it really save? Is sea cargo really that carbon-intensive, I wonder? Sustainability metrics experts, don’t hold back from posting a comment!

  3. […] paper vs. plastic equivalent debate: Our e-pal Dr. Vino alerts us to a major kerfuffle in the U.K. over food-miles, or rather, wine-miles. The Times called […]

  4. Switching to French wine would increase the carbon footprint of consumption if the European wine industry is as detrimental to the environment as their other agricultural practises are.

    Lincoln University found that even with carbon generated by transport included the overall impact on the environment is smaller for agricultural goods produced in New Zealand than in Europe. Hard to believe I know but if you would like to read mere here is an article:

  5. Dr V-
    You raise a very good point and James is right, New Zealand and its wine growers and producers are leading the way to sustainability. The Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand vineyard management program dates back to 1995, and winery management to 2002. In 2005 they committed to become 100% sustainable by 2012. There is a cultural responsibility to respecting and preserving the environment, something the Maori call kaitiakitanga.

  6. Thanks for the recent comments on this posting–not sure how it has resurfaced. Anyway, six months or so after this posting collaborated on a research paper in to the carbon footprint of wine, the main findings of which can be found here. Among them was one that not all transportation miles are created equal with shipping, in fact, being the most efficient from a carbon perspective.


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