Kia ora koutou,
Don Elder pulls down $1.4 million per year as CEO of Solid Energy – about 51 times the average Kiwi income – well paid for his role in the destruction of our planetary civilisation. So it must be galling for him to have to explain why his company is under-performing so badly. But it’s galling not only for us, but for the climate, to look at how he is prioritising his review of the company’s operations.
Our full analysis of the latest events at Solid Energy is now up on the blog. Please read it and share in your communities.
Meanwhile, all around Aotearoa, people are putting spanners in the works of Don and his mining, drilling and fracking mates. In August alone:
- A major gathering of opponents of the Government’s mining agenda took place in Rotorua
- An Australian activist toured the country helping tangata whenua and landowners to lock their gates against the mining industry:
- A BERL report, commissioned by WWF-NZ, shows that Southland would benefit much more by NOT mining lignite.
And that’s just in August. This newsletter also carries announcements of a major conference of youth climate activists in Auckland in December, and the second Summer Festival in Southland in January 2013, organised by Coal Action Murihiku.
Not everything went our way this month: in a decision which once again shows the absurdity of the way climate change is (not) taken into account by the Resource Management Act, three commissioners put their hands over their eyes, ignored that proverbial and literal elephant in the room (see our blog on the hearing and on the consent) and approved Solid Energy’s resource consent application for its planned Mt William North coalmine.
Coal Action Network Aotearoa
1. Coming Events
2. Drew Hutton “Lock the Gates” Tour
3. Ka Nui! Conference reportback
4. Summerfest 2013 Announcement
5. Asset Sales Campaign: Entering the Home Straight
6. BERL Alternative Southland Economic Strategy Report Launch
7. Powershift 2012
8. Mt William North Mine Resource Consent Decision
9. Regional reports: Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland
10. Film Review: Bimblebox
11. News and Resources
12. Update from Australia
13. Are You Team Facebook Or Team Twitter?
14. How To Donate To CANA
1. Coming Events
1 September: Auckland Coal Action meeting, Quaker House, 113 Mt Eden Rd, 1-4pm
5-7 October: Ecumenical Environmental Conference, Wellington.
18 October: Next “Keep the Coal in the Hole” gathering, Wellington. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for venue details.
7-9 December: PowerShift 2012, Auckland.
2. Drew Hutton “Lock the Gate!” Tour
Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance in Queensland has been touring New Zealand in August to talk about the impact the coal seam gas industry and fracking has had on communities and the environment in Australia.
An inspiring speaker who likes to tell stories, Drew has met with farmers, environmentalists, and other key decisionmakers on fracking as he travelled around the country.
The Lock the Gate Alliance is a national alliance of over 120 community, industry and environmental groups and over 1000 supporters concerned with the devastating impact that certain inadequately assessed and inadequately-regulated fossil fuel extraction industries are having on Australia’s short and long term physical, social, environmental and economic wellbeing.
3. Ka Nui! Enough! Conference
Last weekend, more than 100 activists from Dunedin to Northland, Taranaki to Gisborne, converged in our counter-conference to the NZ minerals institute conference in Rotorua.
It was a great weekend of workshops, inspiring speeches and inspiring people. One of the best bits was the incredible hospitality from the Tangata Whenua of the beautiful Mataikotare Marae on the banks of Lake Rotorua. Their full participation in our discussions was a valuable contribution to the strong declaration that we all signed onto. If you like it, use it and share it. Send to your MP, to your local councillor, etc.
We also had time to make a little video about our feelings on the drilling, mining, fracking and seabed mining industries.
Lastly, the 20 or so of us left on Sunday evening paid a little visit to the mining conference’s opening cocktail party, complete with the fabulous Radical Cheerleaders and climate elephants (Drew Hutton joined us as well).
The weekend made us stronger as a network of community groups with a common, shared purpose. As one participant said: “I really got a lot out of working with others over the weekend, who each have different jigsaw pieces of the same bigger kaupapa of stopping these extractive industries.”
4. Summerfest 2013 Announcement
After the success of Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, we’re pleased to announce that the Southland anti-coal action group, Coal Action Murihiku, has taken on the task of organizing Summerfest 2013. Here’s the initial announcement from Coal Action Murihiku:
Good news for those of you who missed our initial Summer festival at Mataura last year – that was CANA’s ‘Keep the Hole in the Hole’ Summer Fest, held in January 2012 at Mike Dumbar’s property – the farmer who has held out against Solid Energy’s plans to buy up land for mining lignite in the Mataura Valley.
Coal Action Murihiku is taking up the challenge of organising another family Summer Fest around lignite and coal issues- focusing on education, fun, forward planning, networking and supporting each other.
Dates: Fri 18 Jan to Mon 21 Jan 2013
Venue: Dolamore Park camping ground and native forest reserve north-west of Gore.
Please put these dates in your diary and plan to come. More details about how to register and programme theme will be advised soon.
5. Asset Sales Campaign: Closing in on the Signature Target
By the end of July, over 200,000 people had signed the petition demanding a Citizens’ Initiated Referendum on the Government’s planned state asset sales.
Approximately 310,000 valid signatures are needed on the petition to ensure that the referendum goes ahead. In that sentence, the word “valid” is the key: signatures will be checked, and because the signatures of people who are not enrolled to vote or whose details do not match their details on the electoral roll will be excluded, the petition needs close to 400,000 total signatures to allow for the expected proportion of invalid signatures.
So there is still plenty of work to do to gather signatures – and you can help by getting involved in collecting signatures and publicising the referendum campaign.
6. Report Launch: A View to the South: Potential Low Carbon Growth Opportunities for the Southern Region Economy
One of the main arguments made by proponents of lignite mining in Southland is that this is Southland’s only path to economic prosperity. So WWF-NZ commissioned BERL Economics to report on low carbon growth opportunities for the Southland economy.
The report, “A View to the South: Potential Low Carbon Growth Opportunities for the Southern Region Economy” addressed the following questions:
- What options are available for developing the Southern region’s economy?
- What employment prospects are available given the wide range of options in the area?
- How can we thrive and create jobs while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions?
BERL found that hundreds of new jobs and tens of millions of dollars could be generated for the people of Southland without developing the polluting coal industry.
7. PowerShift 2012
PowerShift 2012 is a conference, jointly organized by Generation Zero and 350, that will bring together 1000 young people (ages 16-30) from around Aotearoa and the Pacific to learn about climate change in a local and regional context and embark on a major climate change campaign. It’s in Auckland from 7-9 December 2012.
Find out more about the conference, to register, or to share information about it with young people you know.
There is a 30% discount on early bird registrations received before 31 September, so get in quick!
8. Mt William North Mine Resource Consent Decision
Lynley Hargreaves writes:
Solid Energy has been granted consent this week for the next in its line of mines marching down the Waimangaroa Valley, Mt William North. At the resource consent hearing the company admitted that it’s future plans for the area would destroy 17 percent of the remaining coal measure ecosystems – irreplaceable sandstone erosion pavements and habitat for threatened species in an area that is almost naturally predator free.
The Hearing Commissioners didn’t take this cumulative impact into account, because they only consider the 243ha mine area currently being applied for. So Solid Energy and Australian company Bathurst Resources can chip away at the Stockton-Denniston Plateaux, applying for a new mine every few years, while openly admitting to thousands of hectares of planned destruction which would compromise the ecological integrity of the entire area.
Two other issues the Commissioners chose not to consider were climate change and ocean acidification. There is an ongoing legal argument over whether climate impacts are excluded from Resource Management Act considerations and because of this the Commissioners chose not to hear about 11.5 million tonnes of CO2 from burning coal from this mine (they could, however, see the prominent elephant in the room).
Ocean acidification, the effect of the ocean’s uptake of CO2, is not part of the legal wrangle over climate change and submitters at the Mt William hearing presented extensive evidence on the issue. The Commissioners chose to disregard this, stating in their decision that ocean acidification is ‘similar in principle’ to climate change and so lies outside the RMA. Groups or individuals have 15 working days to appeal the decision.
West Coast Environment Network would like to thank all those who have made generous donations to help finance the legal fight to include climate change in our overarching environmental legislation. We’re still working to reach our fundraising goal, so if anyone else has spare change for a good cause, please donate to West Coast ENT Incorporated, Kiwibank, 38-9012-0009759-00.
9. Regional reports: Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland
Note: A quick way to find contacts of all the regional anti-coal action groups is here.
Southland: Coal Action Murihiku (CAM)
Coal Action Murihiku has continued its hard work in opposition to the lignite, coal seam gas (CSG) and fracking proposals Southland is currently facing. In addition to the announcement that Coal Action Murihiku will be organizing the 2013 successor to the January 2012 Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival – as reported above – Jenny Campbell reports on all the other developments in Southland:
On 14 August, the Riversdale Community Centre was the venue for a community briefing about the Government’s tender process for oil and gas exploration permits in Northern Southland organised by Environment Southland. It was intended to give locals the chance to listen and ask questions about the process and what might follow. About 100 people gathered to hear geologist Brad Ilg, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Petroleum, Strategy, Planning and Promotion Manager, attempt to address concerns by farmers. It was reported that they were unhappy to learn they would have no control over exploration on their land.
A proposed action at the pilot briquette plant opening has CAM members formulating an appropriate response to remind Solid Energy and others that we are serious, will not go away and that their schemes are meeting growing opposition. We are watching them. Commissioning appears to be meeting some obstacles so the date seems to be being pushed out till September.
Jenny Campbell, Co- convenor CAM
* Coal Action Murihiku produce excellent monthly newsletters. Check them out online.
Dunedin: Southern Anti-Coal Action (SACA)
Rosemary Penwarden reports on a busy month in Otago, but first, Tarsh Turner has news of a new initiative from CANA and Generation Zero:
CANA and Generation Zero are joining forces in Dunedin to launch a drive to raise awareness about the big plans for Southland lignite, and take action by pressuring the University of Otago to commit to moving away from coal for heating their campus. We have been shocked to learn that the boiler that heats the University often burns lignite, but the good news is there is a report soon to be released, detailing the viability of change and possible alternative heating and power options.
In order to ensure that this report doesn’t slip by unnoticed, we want to show the University Council that the student body is in support of transitioning off coal. We will be kicking this off in September with an event during OUSA Environment Week, and we aim to collect 2,000 signatures supporting our asks. For more info, contact Tarsh at email@example.com, or keep an eye out on CANA’s blog!
Here’s Rosemary’s report on a very busy August:
1 August: Oil giant Anadarko Petroleum has delayed drilling in the Canterbury Basin until the summer of 2013. More time to organise!
4 August: A line of people, big and small, held hands along St Clair Beach to say NO to drilling off our coast, in solidarity with other groups all around Aotearoa.
13 August: A large and motivated group of students and helpers met to hear the joint Gen Zero/CANA/SEA launch of the campaign to end coal (and lignite) use by University of Otago. We hope this campaign will grow to eventually include all users of coal in Dunedin – and further.
15 August: Rosemary Penwarden presented an update to Sustainable Dunedin City on Southland lignite, including latest climate science, its relevance to Dunedin, and a few ideas about what we can do.
28-29 August: A group from Dunedin travelled Southland to catch the launch of WWF’s alternative economic strategy for Southland in Invercargill and Drew Hutton’s Lock the Gate talk in Gore.
Wed 12 September: Just Do It documentary will be screened during Otago Uni’s Environment week. 7pm at The Lounge on Dundas St, next to the church.
“This documentary gives an insiders look at climate change activists in the UK as they employ direct action tactics to stand up to power and make their voices heard. It is funny, personal, and deeply inspiring, and will make you want to get out there and ‘Just Do It!’”
Canterbury: Canterbury Coal Action (CCA)
Rachel Eyre reports:
On 1 August we watched the Australian film Bimblebox at the WEA Centre. (Note: John Adams’ review of the film is below, following the regional reports.)
The CD was provided to our group to watch, courtesy of CANA.
We don’t have a next meeting to promote at this stage but are quietly planning some lobbying of local MPs on coal and climate change issues.
In the meantime if people are interested in getting involved here in Canterbury they should contact Canterbury Coal Action through our gmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wellington: “Keep the Coal in the Hole” Gatherings
Tim Jones reports:
The latest “Keep the Coal in the Hole” gathering in Wellington was held on Thursday 16 August. It was a good opportunity to catch up about the wide range of events in August, including the Ka Nui! Enough! Conference which a number of Wellington people went to, Drew Hutton’s “Lock the Gate” tour and the PowerShift Conference for young climate activists being organized by Generation Zero and 350, and the WWF-NZ/BERL report on alternative economic strategies for Southland.
We arranged to meet again on Thursday 18 October at the 350 Office, 22 Allen St. \ To get updated meeting details, please contact email@example.com.
New Zealand Petroleum Summit protest
The New Zealand oil and gas industry has organised a back-slapping session for itself called the New Zealand Petroleum Summit.
A coalition of groups has formed to oppose this summit and its climate-wrecking, environment-despoiling agenda, and they have organised a protest to leave the assembled delegates in exactly no doubt how unpopular their plans are. Here’s the initial announcement – watch out for further details:
Calling everyone to protest against the NZ Petroleum Summit. Wednesday 19th September, 5pm, outside the Amora Hotel, 170 Wakefield St. Please watch this space for further details. Noise makers, placards and children welcome.
Auckland: Auckland Coal Action
Jill Whitmore reports:
This month Auckland Coal Action has worked on developing a PowerPoint presentation on coal and climate change, and those thinking of speaking are preparing their talks to which it can be adapted, as we are planning an outreach information campaign. We will also campaign for a coal-free Auckland, first analysing which organisations in the Auckland area (besides the Glenbrook steel mill – we’ll leave that till later!) are still burning coal in boilers etc, and will then try to persuade these organisations to switch away from coal to more sustainable fuel e.g. wood pellets.
One of our members has succeeded in getting a number of good letters published in the Herald.
On Friday 17 August we ran another film evening, showing the very interesting Australian documentary Gas Rush, with Jeanette Fitzsimons talking about the dangerous potentials of further unrestrained fossil fuel development. The audience this time was fewer, mainly members and known supporters, but we enjoyed the evening in a pleasant venue and the refreshments. The proceeds of over $400 will be shared between the Denniston appeal and ACA’s own needs.
Next meeting, all welcome: Saturday 1 September, at the Quaker house, 113 Mt Eden Rd, 1-4pm.
About Auckland Coal Action
Auckland Coal Action was formed in July 2011 following the visit of Dr James Hansen. We recognise that coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and that its ongoing use will lead to catastrophic climate change. We aim to achieve a coal-free Aotearoa by 2030, initially by opposing the expansion of coal mining. We do this work to play our part in sustaining a benign climate for us, our children and grandchildren.
Join our Facebook group:
Subscribe to our monthly email update – contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Film Review: Bimblebox
Canterbury Coal Action screened the documentary Bimblebox on 1 August. John Adams of Canterbury Coal Action has kindly reviewed the film for us:
Bimblebox is a challenge. It’s a documentary movie based on Australian coal and coal seam gas expansion and the community responses to that expansion. If that sounds dry, then you need to watch the film, because it’s surprisingly emotional.
Bimblebox itself is a nature reserve in inland Queensland, described by an ecologist as being indicative of wilderness Australia. The family that farms nearby has an agreement with the Government that the reserve will be managed in perpetuity for its wildlife values. But the agreement is worthless now that coal has been found. The whole area is in line for open cast mining.
The action shifts to the Hunter Valley and to the Darling Downs where communities and food-growing land are threatened by the expansion of mines.
Further afield the film shows the effect on the corals of the Great Barrier Reef and on Aboriginal sacred sites that stand in the way of the diggers.
Any Kiwi audience would be quick to draw parallels with Denniston (indicative of wilderness New Zealand) and Mataura (communities and food growing land) as well as tangata whenua concepts of turangawaewae and “sense of place”.
So it’s not just an Aussie film – it’s for us all.
What is frightening is the scale of the proposals and the power of the developers – they appear to have the support of the governments in Australia and in China. Against them is a small, informal coalition of farmers, mothers, students and tribal leaders. What hope can they have?
I was lucky enough to watch the film at a screening organised by Canterbury Coal Action, so I knew I was surrounded by like-minded people. What hope can we have?
The answer, from the film and from our own knowledge is that we have hope because we know that what we are doing is right. The film gives us something more: one person in the audience, with a tear in her eye, said “It makes me so angry!” Maybe some anger is what we gain from watching Bimblebox.
So Bimblebox is a challenge. It’s challenging to watch because you want to cry, or to help. But it challenges us to step up our efforts for a just transition to a coal free future.
Note: if you want to screen Bimblebox in your region, email us at CANA and we can get mail it to you.
11. News and Resources
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is investigating the link between climate change and increased earthquakes and vulcanism. That should concern New Zealanders – and it’s a great prompt for Letters to the Editor:
- In case you missed it, the summer ice melt in the Arctic has broken all records, already. There’s still a couple of weeks left before the summer minimum, so this year’s low will be even worse. Check out the daily updates at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) The Guardian’s George Monbiot’s take on it is pretty good.
- Meanwhile, if you weren’t clear on the climate science, we suggest you read the American Meteorological Society’s latest update, adopted on August 20: “There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities.”
- There are lots of resources available on the Coal Action Network Aotearoa website. Check out our Video/Audio page at and our Resources page.
12. Australia update
While Australia is facing a much bigger onslaught on coal, it’s inspiring to know what’s been going on over there.
Output from coal-fired power stations is down 10 per cent.
The Government has pulled funding for a new HRL coal plant proposed for Victoria, after a concerted community campaign. Renew Economy has a good summary of Australia and new coal.
Possibly off-topic (fracking), but so inspiring: locals this week finished a nine-day blockade of Dart Energy’s coal seam gas plant at Fullerton Cove, Newcastle.
But all is not great over there: mining magnate Gina Rinehart has just received go-ahead for her Alpha Coal mine in Queensland – a mine that will produce 30 Megatonnes of coal a year, shipped out through the Great Barrier Reef.
13. Are You Team Twitter Or Team Facebook?
The section of the newsletter where we list our social media channels might be seen as a little boring, so why not spice it up with some spurious Twilight-style competition? Right now, it’s a close race between CANA’s Facebook group and Twitter account to see who can gain the most followers. At the time of writing, our Facebook group and our Twitter account both have 549 followers!
Who’ll win? CANA will, as we build up the reach of our social media channels.
The good news about this little competition is that you can be on both sides. If you’re on Facebook and haven’t already done so, please join our group and invite your friends. If you’re on Twitter, please follow @coalaction, RT our tweets, and encourage your Twitter followers to follow us too.
A Facebook page we encourage you to Like is Leave the Lignite, Save the Soil.
Say No To Fracking in NZ also has a Facebook group.
14. How To Donate to CANA
We rely on your generous donations to keep the campaign going. Here are the account details if you want to donate:
Coal Action Network
38 9011 0484435 00