Jobs After Coal: Full Report, Summary Report, and Presentation Now Available

jac_coverJobs After Coal is Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s report, released in May 2014, that shows how coal mining communities can move beyond dependence on coal jobs – and how we can provide a just transition for workers in the coal industry into other jobs.

You can download:

You can also read about how the report is being received in communities around the country:

http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/category/jobs-after-coal/

Keep up with all the latest news about Jobs After Coal on our Jobs After Coal page.

Jobs After Coal Roadshow Report

jac_coverRosemary Penwarden writes: Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s Jobs After Coal report (PDF, 3Mb) has been a couple of years in the making. Writing it was like one of those relays where you hand the baton to the next person, they go like hell and then pass it on. With Cindy’s eye for media deadlines and Jeanette’s capacity to work harder than anyone I’ve ever seen, we kept on track and have even managed to stay friends. We could not have done it without the constructive feedback from Geoff Bertram, Dave Kennedy, Conor Twyford, Edward Miller, Sam Huggard and Geoff Keey. About 100 people attended the Wellington launch on 22 May. Co-author Tim Jones was able to take a moment out from the depths of his Save the Basin Campaign Board of Inquiry hearing to join us. Most encouraging for me was to see union organisers in the audience, and ongoing discussions since with the unions around one of the report’s main issues – a just transition to a low carbon economy. Jeanette has made Jobs After Coal her winter project roadshow, describing it as a bit like being on the campaign trail (which she does not miss). She presented in Christchurch on 30 June and gave four talks in the Top of The South 25-28 July, well received, with good sized audiences at each venue. Passing the baton to Jeanette Fitzsimons here…

A great weekend with my old and dear friend Debs with whom I worked on the campaign to stop Project Aqua, the diversion of most of the low flow of the Waitaki river. We won that one, and we will win this one too! One of the precious things about this roadshow is reconnecting with friends I’ve worked with – like Mike and Joe and Robina from Mataura in the days of the lignite scare, who drove through to Invercargill.

Debs drove me over the hill to Blenheim (we talked Denniston all weekend) where I presented at the opening of the art exhibition “Oil on Canvas”, a fund raiser for the active campaign aginst deep sea oil drilling, organised by the amazing Verena Maeder.  A ready made audience and companion speakers Rod Morris, whose photos have built love and awe for the Denniston Plateau nation-wide, and entrepreneur Nick Gerritsen, about his latest project to make liqiod fuels from wood waste.

I foresee waste wood from forestry operations becoming the next scarce resource as people realise it  is our lifeline to an economy without fossil fuels. Boiler fuel, home heating,  transport fuel, even coke for steel making, and of course the ultimate finite resource is land, on which it all depends. Even with renewables we can’t keep growing forever.

Beautiful art works, all local, including one of Rod’s images of Denniston which I coveted, but wasn’t feeling rich. One that particularly took my eye was a disturbing painting called 2L8. I know in my head it probably is, but I refuse to believe it and the only way to live is to try to still make a difference.

You learn something every time you stand up to talk to a group. I’ve been singing the praises of NZ innovation LVL, a strengthened timber building material that can substitute for steel and concrete in multi-storeyed buildings – very low carbon, in fact stores carbon for the life of the building. I’ve been lamenting that Christchurch was not rebuilt in this sustainable material, partly because there is no fabricating plant here to cut the stuff to order. A voice from the back row in Takaka called out “not true. Nelson Pine opened one this week”. Turned out to be Piers McLaren, doyen forester with whom I have corresponded but never before met. Led to a useful discussion with the CEO of Nelson Pine the next day.

So Blenheim, Takaka, Motueka and Nelson – lots of great people all working in their own way on a fossil free future.

Then to Dunedin where I met up with Rosemary. We managed our “Two Ronnies” act OK at the university presentation. The Chamber of Commerce wanted a rather different slant – business opportunities in a low carbon economy. They booked quite a small room so it was a good experience for them to find it booked out a day ahead and they were squeezing people in on the night. More general public than business, but some of the latter too and I’ve heard it did make an impression on the Chamber. Back to Rosemary….

I teamed up with Jeanette again for the two Dunedin presentations on 29 and 30 July, to audiences of around 50 at each venue. The following afternoon, armed with cups of tea and sandwiches for non-stop travel, we headed to Invercargill where fellow CANA organising member Jenny Campbell had a precisely timed two days awaiting. A pot luck tea, catch-ups with fellow Southland anti-lignite campaigners and our JAC presentation followed – complete with our very own climate change sceptic in the front row. Neither Jeanette nor I needed to respond as the Invercargill audience deftly dealt with his comments.

Rosemary Penwarden...

Rosemary Penwarden, Nathan Surendran, Joe Nowak…

Rosemary Penwarden...

…Jeanette Fitzsimons and Mike Dumbar in conversation with old friends at the Invercargill event

The following morning we met with Steve Canny and others at Venture Southland for an exchange that lasted the entire morning, with an interlude to pose for the Southland Times and a TV interview with the very patient and charming Cue TV reporter. Thanks to Dave Kennedy for organising the Venture Southland meeting – their work is inspiring. I spied their speedy little electric car being delivered as we left. A couple of spare hours were filled with unexpected discussions with bank staff when Jeanette’s plastic card was swallowed up by the ATM machine, never to be returned. They were so nice. (Jeanette: So they should have been – Bank’s mistake, not mine! ) You just can’t get angry with Southlanders! We kept hearing about the next event on Jenny’s itinerary: the Environment Southland Awards. It’s big, we were told. Southlanders are not known to exaggerate, even so, we were both surprised at the scale of the evening at the Ascot Hotel – live TV, over 500 guests for a full meal and accompaniments, anyone who’s anyone there and, as is always the case down this end of Aotearoa, they all seemed to know each other. The best part of the evening was the very last prize being awarded to Jenny’s group, Southland Forest and Bird, for their remarkable 25 years of restoration and care of the yellow eyed penguin reserve, Te Rere. A very early morning at Invercargill airport completed this leg of the JAC roadshow. We look forward to being invited to other parts of the country to continue the discussion. For me, it’s about more than phasing out coal mining. It is a good place to start the necessary work we must all now participate in – to build and manage a fair and durable shift to a low carbon economy, where workers do not bear the brunt of that shift. From here, our little JAC relay looks like part of an enormous marathon. Change is emerging but we’re racing to a deadline. A just transition to a low carbon economy has to be fair and it has to be swift. We need everyone’s diverse, creative skills to keep that baton moving, run like hell, and pass it on. We have advantages many other countries could only dream about, and we look forward to taking charge of our own futures instead of being at the mercy of unjust market forces and a dying industry. It’s already happening.

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I took a picture of the shiny silent mothballed briquette plant on my way home, for old times’ sake. Still think it would make a great whisky distillery

Stern Criticism of Westpac – From A Surprising Quarter

DumpDennistonLogoCoalA recently published article contains a stern critique of Westpac over their continuing financial support of coal miners Bathurst Resources, who have now begun removing “overburden” (i.e. the ecosystem) from the Denniston Plateau in preparation for larger-scale coal mining when and if international coal prices rise. In the article, Kath Dewar says:

By contrast Westpac has been less savvy.  Heralded in 2011 as a leader of sustainability, since November 2013 the bank has been repeatedly embarrassed by media coverage of protests triggered by its lending practices.  Westpac’s loans to Bathurst, the company poised to open-cast mine the Denniston Plateau  conservation area for coal, despite significant environmental opposition, make the bank’s efforts to cut the climate footprint  climate impact of its office operations seem tokenistic. Such ‘green-wash’ is easily seen as hypocritical and 94% of NZers say they “get annoyed when products try to pass themselves off as greener than they really are” (source: Colmar Brunton, 2011).

Right on the point, you might think, but not a new criticism – until you discover that this article appeared in the blog of the Marketing Association of New Zealand. The article Scrubbing up grubby brands and clean slate competition is well worth reading, and it’s very noticeable that Westpac is now being called out for its greenwashing even within the business community.

If you’d like to increase the pressure on Westpac, please sign the CANA/350.org.nz  letter to Westpac CEO Peter Clare and get involved in the campaign for Westpac to divest from Bathurst Resources.

Jobs After Coal South Island Tour July 2014

UPDATE: Change of venue for Dunedin event on 29 July – now in Archway Lecture Theatre 2!

After the excellent reception given to CANA’s report Jobs After Coal at the Wellington launch in May, and a Christchurch event on 30 June which attracted at least 100 people, it’s time to take Jobs After Coal beyond the main centres – and we’re starting in the South Island in the final week of July. Check out the schedule below, get along if you can, and invite your friends and networks to hear Jeanette Fitzsimons explain how we can make a just transition away from coal mining while creating low carbon jobs and sustaining communities.

We’ll be creating Facebook events for each stop on the tour soon and we’ll link them here – watch out for them!

Download a copy of Jobs After Coal

Top of the South, 25-28 July

Blenheim, Friday 25 July: Marlborough Arts Society Gallery, High St, 7pm, contact Verena Maeder, verena_m@hotmail.com

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1428581224091256/

Motueka, Saturday 26 July:  St. Thomas Church, High St., Motueka, 7.30pm. Jeanette Fitzsimons speaks on Beyond Fossil Fuels: Transition to a New Economy. Contact Debs Martin, d.martin@forestandbird.org.nz

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1645936305631995/

Nelson, Sunday 27 July: NMIT Student Lounge, 6pm, contact Debs Martin, d.martin@forestandbird.org.nz – hosted by Forest & Bird.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/668361303246327/

Golden Bay: to be confirmed

Dunedin, Tuesday 29 July

(with Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rosemary Penwarden)

1pm, Archway Lecture Theatre 2 (*** note change in venue from Otago University Centre for Sustainability***), contact fatima.ibrahim-mckague@otago.ac.nz

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/251114788423387/

5.30pm, Otago Chamber of Commerce, “Reinvigorating the Economy: CleanTech Jobs and Low Carbon Opportunity”, contact blueskinenergy@gmail.com or events@otagochamber.co.nz

Invercargill, Wednesday 30 July, Federated Farmers Meeting Room, 70 Forth St

(with Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rosemary Penwarden)

6.30pm: Potluck tea
7.30pm: Networking
8.00pm: Presentation

Contact Jenny Campbell, jennycam@xtra.co.nz

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/590768507702648/

Mining decision a tragedy for Denniston plateau

DumpDennistonLogoCoalPress release

The news that Bathurst plans to start mining at Denniston on 1 July is a tragedy for the stunning ecology of the plateau, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

“Not only is this a tragedy for the beautiful plateau, it is also a tragedy for the climate, as every new coal mine is stealing from our children’s future,” said Jeanette Fitzsimons, a spokesperson for CANA.
Continue reading

Solid Energy layoffs more evidence coal won’t provide secure jobs

Press release 6 June

Coal Action Network activist at the now mothballed Mataura briquetting plant - supposed to provide local jobs, but didn't.

Coal Action Network activist at the now mothballed Mataura briquetting plant – supposed to provide local jobs, but didn’t.

Further layoffs expected today at Solid Energy’s Stockton mine are a warning that coal cannot be relied on for community prosperity and jobs says Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA).

CANA’s new report, Jobs After Coal – a Just Transition for coal mining communities, released two weeks ago, documents the reasons for the world-wide decline in coal mining and argues strongly that workers should not be left to bear the burden of redundancies.

Jeanette Fitzsimons, one of the authors, said “Coal prices are not going up again any time soon, renewable energy is getting cheaper all the time, and climate change means that most of the coal currently available to mine can never be burned anyway.”

“This is all part of the ‘perfect storm’ Don Elder talked of before he resigned.”

“It is urgent to set in place a planning process for communities that are most affected. This should have been done two years ago when the redundancies started, rather than waiting until even more families are suffering.”

“The latest layoffs make it clear that communities cannot rely on a boom and bust industry for their job security.”

A “Just Transition” would provide central government help for a community-led process to analyse where the skills of miners can be transferred to other industries and develop local economic development based on local skills and opportunities.

“It needs to involve all parts of the community – councils, business, unions, iwi, polytechs, ngos,  to plan a future after coal.”

The report provides some snapshots of what other communities overseas have done to reinvent themselves after coal mining, and concludes that the West Coast could do the same with some government resources.

Coal communities deserve better than the “boom and bust” coal industry

We at Coal Action Network have a vision for Aotearoa:  that we are coal-free by 2027.  We’ve arrived at this date as it’s when all the current coal mines in operation around the country will reach their end date.

Our new report released today.

Our new report released today.

It doesn’t include new mines such as Bathurst’s plans for the beautiful Dennison Plateau, where operations have stalled and 29 workers were recently laid off as the coal price has plummeted in the face of a global oversupply.

But imagine if the Government was to draw a line in the sand and state that there would be no more coal mines in Aotearoa.  If they did that today,  this would give coal mining communities the time to adjust, to plan a transition away from coal that involved the entire community, and led to a sustainable future. Continue reading