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Carbon footprint isn't all about miles, says NZ

New Zealand has hit back at The Times newspaper, which encouraged readers to buy French rather than Kiwi wine in an article on how to 'shrink your carbon footprint’.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the report, ‘is inaccurate and misleading. New Zealand wines are exported by sea to the United Kingdom. This mode uses less carbon emissions per kilometre than by air or road. New Zealand also does not subsidise the production and distillation of wine for which there is no market, as is done with billions of litres every year in Europe at significant carbon cost.

‘In any event,’ he said, ‘the amount of energy used in exporting is only one aspect in sustainability and protecting the environment. To continually focus on “food miles” is erroneous. There are other wider sustainability elements in the wine industry such as waste management and sustainable production.’

He continued that, ‘New Zealand Winegrowers has pioneered the development of a sustainability winegrowing policy,’ which he said has been widely adopted by the country’s grape-growing regions.

The Times carbon-footprint comparison used the DEFRA CO2 emissions factor for large bulk carrier (ship) freight against the emissions factor for a 75 per cent loaded articulated lorry, assuming an average lorry load of 9.3 tonnes. The newspaper calculated using the distance between Auckland and London of 18,331 km and between Bordeaux and London of 742 km. On this basis, the French wine would have a rating of 808 kg of CO2, while the New Zealand wine would be quite a lot higher at 1,193 kg of CO2.

However, if you think all European wine is going to fare better than New Zealand on a journey-only, carbon-footprint basis, then think again. Take a wine from Chianti and the Italian bottle clocks up an even worse rating. Using the same emissions factor for the loaded lorry, this tots up 1,581 kg of CO2.