Grandmothers and farmers block Fonterra plant

Press Release

Three grandmothers, a student and a farmer have this morning chained themselves to a gate to prevent coal being delivered to Fonterra’s Clandeboye dairy factory in South Canterbury.dsc_2258

At 7.30 am, the five locked themselves to the gate at the entrance to the factory’s coal plant, as a pile of woodchips was dumped in front of them, with the message “FONTERRA QUIT COAL,” while others were dressed as cows pointing to the woodchips as an alternative.  In all, 24 people are now at the site taking part in the protest.

One of the grandmothers is Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s (CANA) Jeanette Fitzsimons,joined by CANA’s Rosemary Penwarden, Auckland Coal Action’s Jill Whitmore (also a farmer), Mike Dumbar – one of the farmers who refused to sell his land to Solid Energy when it was buying up land for its now-abandoned plans for massive coal expansion project in Southland, and Charlie Montague – a health student from Dunedin.

“Fonterra is our second largest user of coal and this factory burns 180,000 tonnes of coal a year. All of this ends up in our atmosphere, contributing to climate change. It’s time for Fonterra to keep the coal in the hole and switch to woodchips instead,” said Ms Fitzsimons.

“Fonterra’s coal use is also propping up the mining industry – coal mines around the country are being re-opened and extended because of Fonterra’s addiction to coal.”

Fonterra is the largest customer for Bathurst Resources, which started mining the Denniston Plateau, but stopped when the coal price dropped.

“There is no question that without Fonterra, this company would have gone bust,” she added.

The protest has come at the end of CANA’s “Summerfest” in Ashburton, which has seen more than 50 campaigners from around the country gather for a two-day discussion around the issues of Coal, Cows and Climate.

“The meeting was extremely productive. New Zealand’s biggest contribution to climate change is agriculture, with rising emissions from the dairy industry in particular.   Farmers are being hit by the impacts of climate change, and everyone is experiencing the gathering crisis of water pollution.  These issues are all connected.”

 

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Fonterra Rorts the ETS

from Jeanette Fitzsimons

It is perhaps no surprise that our friend Fonterra, as the second biggest coal user in NZ (and a substantial user of gas as well), is among the “dirty dozen” largest users of fraudulent ETS credits identified by the Morgan Foundation in their brilliant piece of research Who’s the Real Cheat Here? Climate Cheats II: The Dozen Dirty Businesses.

What is surprising is that in Zella’s creative graphic below, using figures from that report, Fonterra doesn’t look too bad. It comes tenth in the Morgan list and holds fewer shonky credits than the oil and electricity companies. Fonterra’s 1.2 million units, although still huge, compare favourably with BP’s 6.1 million units.

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But Fonterra is worse than they look and here’s why:  

The ETS rules give free credits to “trade exposed” companies whose overseas competitors don’t have to pay any price for their carbon emissions. Fonterra is eligible for free credits equal to 60% of its process emissions.

These credits, worth up to $25 per unit on the international market, are paid out courtesy of the NZ taxpayer. Fonterra was expected to use them in part-payment for their emissions.

But they didn’t. Instead, like many other companies benefitting from this largesse, Fonterra cheated. They sold the credits at full price and bought dirt cheap credits from places like Russia and Ukraine which did not represent actual emissions reductions – in other words, they were fraudulent. They used these junk credits to pay their ETS obligation to the Government.

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ECO Conference shows unions and environmental groups are natural allies

Coal Action Network Aotearoa was well represented at the recent ECO (Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand) Conference in Auckland – which saw environmentalists and the union movement further cementing a relationship which has grown increasingly close in recent years.

Just Transition panel at ECO Conference

Climate Justice Aotearoa has produced an excellent report of the conference on their website, which we have lightly adapted here:

This year’s ECO conference saw what Jeanette Fitzsimons of CANA described as a coming together of “natural allies”  with environmentalists and unions exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with realising a just transition for workers and communities here in Aotearoa. Continue reading

The Government Is Trying To Classify Protests At Sea As Terrorism – Submit By Friday

There have been many famous seaborne protests in New Zealand’s history. Some of them – like the Moruroa ship visits – were even organised by the Government of the day. But the current National Government is trying to classify ship-borne protests as terrorism, and we only have until this Friday to say “No!”

Why should a group campaigning against new and expanded coal mines care about that? Although protests against nuclear ship visits might come to mind first when we think of seaborne protests – and indeed, the Government appears to be rushing this Bill through in advance of a planned US warship visit – New Zealnd has also seen seaborne protests against oil exploration and coal shipments in recent years. Continue reading

What’s Going On At Stockton?

Failed state-owned coal company Solid Energy may no longer be hitting the headlines, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on – far from it. And the consequences may be very serious.

Our sources on the West Coast tell us that between 15 and 20 groups of potential buyers, mainly from India, have been through Solid Energy’s big Stockton mine there.

We also know that Bathurst Resources, the Australian coal mining company that fled Australia and set up in New Zealand, and which has managed to make a fearful mess of the unique and biodiverse Denniston Plateau in the course of a largely failed attempt to extract coal from it at an economic price, is trying to buy Stockton.

Work on the Denniston Plateau has now stopped.

Work on the Denniston Plateau has now stopped – but the destruction wrought by Bathurst Resources remains.

Republic Investment Management of Singapore recently bought a 20% stake in Bathurst Resources, and they are seeking to acquire more, possibly with a view to taking a controlling interest. This has allowed Bathurst to raise funds in relation to “an impending NZ coal opportunity”, which we believe may be the attempted purchase of Stockton and other coal deposits which Solid Energy has the rights to but has not attempted to mine. Continue reading

Fonterra Ignores the Big Picture

By Rosemary Penwarden

The decision by ECAN and WDC to allow Fonterra to keep on expanding, adding a new 30-tonne/hour coal-fired boiler to their Studholme milk processing plant near Waimate, reminds me of my Dad’s driving.

Fonterra Quit CoalWhen I was a kid we occasionally drove from Wanganui to Lower Hutt to visit cousins. With Dad behind the wheel it was Lower Hutt or Bust. Even a toilet stop required dire ultimatums to get the car to slow.

When Mum was behind the wheel, variables were appraised, the big picture assessed and the agenda adjusted accordingly. More often than not, that meant stops at every vegetable stand, regular side-of-the-road picnics and occasionally, much to Dad’s chagrin, detours to a stream for a quick dip before hitting the road again.

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Auckland Coal Action: Activists carry out Waikato coal mine inspection, leave climate message

A group of eight activists from Auckland Coal Action, many of them grandparents, have carried out an inspection of Solid Energy’s Kopako 1 coal mine in the Waikato to protest its redevelopment, and left a climate change message for the company.

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The mine, near Maramarua, in North East Waikato, has been dormant since the 1990s, but Solid Energy has now begun work to revive it.  The team confirmed after walking into the site that not only has overburden been removed, but coal mining from a seam has begun.

“Solid Energy is undertaking extensive development of this old coal mine, despite having no customers for the coal, and the international industry being in terminal decline,” said one of the activists, Geoff Mason of Auckland Coal Action.

“Meanwhile, the Government has signed the Paris Agreement which means that we have to get out of coal by 2050, globally, which means coal like this has to stay in the ground.

The team walked into the mine site, and spent around an hour at the coalface, wrapping a excavator in “climate crime scene” tape confirming that new mining has removed the overburden and is now digging up coal. They deployed signs and banners, before leaving again.

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Among the activists who inspected the mine today was Phil, a great grandparent.

“I am seriously concerned about a climate changed future for my five great grandchildren – this is why I am here today, to tell Solid Energy and the Government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and keep the coal in the hole,” she said.

Auckland Coal Action is also concerned that one of the potential customers for the mine could be Fonterra, the country’s second-largest user of coal.  Fonterra was planning to open its own coal mine at nearby Mangatawhiri, but has put those plans on permanent hold.

“Solid Energy might be eyeing Fonterra as a potential customer, but Fonterra should be looking at changing its energy source to renewable wood and biomass rather than coal,” said Geoff Mason.

“What is clear is that this mine should be kept out of commission – for the climate, for the local environment and for our future.”

Check out more photos from the action, and watch this video in which Nick from Auckland Coal Action explains what’s on the line:

Fonterra coal boiler decision “ridiculous”

PRESS RELEASE

Death Star 15The decision to let Fonterra build a massive, coal-fired boiler in South Canterbury is a blow for the climate and a sustainable future, and flies in the face of any regard for our grandchildren, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

Environment Canterbury and Waimate District Council today gave the go-ahead for Fonterra’s planned 30-tonne/hour coal-fired boiler at its Studholme factory just outside of Waimate.

According to an expert witness for CANA (1), this would have to see an increase in the South Canterbury/North Otago dairy herd of 270,000 cows, in order to provide enough milk to feed the factory.

In May, in the face of what it called “strong opposition,” Fonterra cut its plans back to one boiler instead of two.

“Even one new coal boiler will over-extend the environmental capacity of the area,” said Rosemary Penwarden, a grandmother, of CANA.  “We are extremely disappointed that the Commissioners didn’t take the wider impact of the plant into account in their decision – the region can’t take it.
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Chch council should drop climate deniers from expert review panel

PRESS RELEASE

The Christchurch City Council should drop the two climate deniers it recently appointed to a new panel to re-review a coastal hazards report,  Coal Action Network Aotearoa said today.

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Christchurch City Council illustration of sea level rise

As part of its district plan, the council commissioned the engineering firm Tonkin Taylor to estimate the impacts of a sea level rise of around 40cm over the next 50 years, and one metre in 100 years.

After loud local protest from potentially affected residents,  the council has appointed a new panel to conduct a second peer review of the report.  But that panel now has two well-known climate science deniers on it:  Kesten Green and Willem de Lange, whose history of climate denial has been set out on the Hot Topic blog.   Continue reading

Reflections on my experience at the Fonterra Studholme resource consent hearing

by Jenny Campbell

Fonterra clinging

What does it mean to be part of a positive, hopeful and world -changing group of motivated people?

My experience of being part of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) team and their oral submission presentations at Studholme, near Waimate, was humbling, invigorating, and life changing.

The build-up and hours of submission writing, strategizing as to who from CANA was covering what aspect and counting the number of people from the local community as well as others from further afield who had committed to being there, all added to the anticipation.

Teleconference calls kept the focus on the strategy of presenting factual information to combat the Fonterra’s evidence. Much rejoicing occurred when we heard two experts, economist Peter Fraser and wood boiler engineer Christian Jirkowsky, had agreed to appear as expert witnesses on our behalf.

Fellow CANA member, Zella Downing and I set off after work from Invercargill, arriving in Waimate late at night, having covered a multitude of topics including what we were saying when it came to our oral presentations. We had already heard from CANA member, Rosemary Penwarden about her impressions from the days at the end of the previous week as to how the Commissioners were listening carefully to alternative views, not hurrying submitters, asking searching questions and appearing to be listening. Continue reading