Monthly Archives: September 2013

Five Out Of Five Anglican Dioceses Vote To Divest From Fossil Fuels

Earlier this month, the Auckland Diocese of the Anglican Church became the first New Zealand institution to decide to divest from fossil fuels – that is, to withdraw  investments from companies whose main business is the extraction and/or production of fossil fuels.
Here is the full story on that decision:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/auckland-diocese-of-anglican-church-becomes-first-new-zealand-institution-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels/

We’re delighted to report that the four other Anglican dioceses which have been considering divestment motions have also voted to divest from fossil fuels – making 5 out of 5 dioceses that have voted to divest:

  • Auckland
  • Waiapu
  • Wellington
  • Dunedin
  • Waikato and Taranaki

This is a wonderful start to the fossil fuel divestment campaign in Aotearoa/New Zealand: our congratulations to those who are leading this effort and the dioceses who have made this decision! Continue reading

Auckland Diocese of Anglican Church Becomes First New Zealand Institution To Divest From Fossil Fuels

UPDATE: Following decisions to divest from fossil fuels by the Auckland and Waiapu Dioceses, the following dioceses have  divestment motions coming up for consideration:

  • Wellington (21-22 Sept) – STOP PRESS: Wellington has also voted to divest
  • Dunedin (27 Sept)
  • Waikato and Taranaki (28-29 Sept)

Main Story

In a major boost for the growing fossil fuels divestment campaign, the Auckland Diocese of the Anglican Church has become the first New Zealand institution to decide to divest from fossil fuels.

As reported by the Anglican Communion News Service: http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2013/09/auckland-diocese-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels.aspx:

the Diocesan Synod voted overwhelmingly to support a motion calling on the diocese to withdraw its investments from companies whose main business is the extraction and/or production of fossil fuels.


The divestment motion was co-sponsored by Revd Mathew Newton of St Paul Symond’s Street and the Diocesan Climate Change Action Group. It asks the diocese to sell off any remaining fossil fuel holdings within 2 years.

Similar motions calling for fossil fuel divestment are being put to other Anglican dioceses during the next few weeks, and the Waiapu Diocese has subsequently passed a divestment motion. Matheson Russell, who initiated this process within the Church, has written about it for the Anglican Church publication Taongahttp://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/Common-Life/Auckland-challenged-on-fossil-fuels

Here are three excellent videos on the issues to watch and share:

CANA welcomes this important first step in getting New Zealand institutions to divestfrom fossil fuels. We hope that other Anglican dioceses, other churches and faith groups, and other New Zealand institutions make the same decision. Work is already going on both in front of and behind the scenes to put pressure on other institutions todivest, and we expect this announcement to be the first of many.

To get involved in other fossil fuel divestment campaigns in Aotearoa/NZ, check out 350.0rg.nz’s Go Fossil Free page: http://gofossilfree.org/nz/

Wellington meeting | 6pm, 25 September | Save Denniston | Tell The Banking Industry to Divest from Bathurst!

You are warmly invited to a meeting on Denniston, the fossil fuels divestment movement, and the campaigning we can do in Wellington to urge financial institutions to divest from Bathurst. Bathurst is the Australian coal company who wants to turn the beautiful Denniston Plateau into an open cast mine.

When: 6pm – 8pm, Wednesday 25 September

Where: Dance Studio, Toi Poneke, 61 Abel Smith St, Wellington.
Entrance is from the rear of the Arts Centre – follow the signs!

Hosted by: Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA), 350.org and the Keep the Coal in the Hole Wellington network

What:

  • 6:00 – 7:00pm: Speakers from CANA, 350.org and Forest and Bird
  • 7:00 – 8:00pm: Facilitated discussion on what we can do here in Wellington

Come along if you are keen to get involved, or want to learn more*

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/457375387709529/

About Denniston:

From: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/campaigns/save-the-denniston-plateau-ours-not-mine

Paved with sandstone and edged with rocky outcrops, Denniston Plateau is home to a number of geological curiosities that bring to mind images of Middle Earth.

The unique rock formation that makes up this ancient part of New Zealand gives rise to a rich mosaic of life that is only found here: bonsai gardens of rata, tussock and pygmy pine.

At night, great spotted kiwi and our carnivorous giant snails can be found hunting out worms and grubs.

Cryptically hidden in the shrublands lie  vast communities of green geckos, ground weta and speckled skinks.

Doused with an annual rainfall of 6 metres, water carves the quartzose sandstone into unusual shapes.

But Denniston is under threat from Bathurst’s planned open cast coal mine. Forest and Bird, CANA and others across the country have been campaigning to save this beautiful conservation land.  Bathurst is only still in business by the good grace of their bankers who, last September, waived their right to take retaliatory action after Bathurst breached their repayment agreement. See CANA’s article on http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1308/S00200/the-westport-story-right-of-reply-from-coal-action-network.htm

About divestment:

The global divestment movement was initiated by the international climate action organization, 350.org.  Here in Wellington, it was launched by Bill McKibben at his Do the Math tour earlier this year.

From http://gofossilfree.org/nz/:

It’s our money, so we’re asking them to divest! We’re all connected to institutions that ought to be looking out for the public good.

Many of these institutions, however, support the fossil fuel industry through stocks, bonds and investment funds – using our money.

We’re part of a rapidly growing global campaign calling on institutions and organisations we’re a part of to divest all direct investments from fossil fuels and increase investment in renewables. Collectively we have the power to take on the multi-billion dollar industry driving climate change.

The Anglican Diocese of Auckland recently decided to divest from the fossil fuel industry; the first institutional body in New Zealand to do so: http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2013/09/auckland-diocese-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels.aspx

Groups across the country are campaigning for divestment.

* * *

For more information, please email coalactionnetwork@gmail.com

We look forward to meeting with you on Wednesday 25 September

*Spies not welcome!

Bathurst Shares Nearly Worthless – Hey, Wanna Buy Some More?

Stockton Mine on the West Coast, Photo: Peter Lusk

Stockton Mine on the West Coast, near Denniston. Photo: Peter Lusk

Jeanette Fitzsimons writes:

If you’re one of those lucky Bathurst shareholders whose shares have just bounced back up to 18.2 NZ cents (previously was well over $1) you have just been offered a great opportunity to buy more. What’s more, you can buy them at the discount price of AUS 15c, up to a total value of AUS $5.4m. I imagine you’ll be racing to do that.

Bathurst seems to need money. Recently they conducted a capital raising seeking $20m in new shares from the public. They weren’t allowed in sharemarket rules to raise more than that – determined by a proportion of their current total share value. They froze trading for a day while people rushed to take up this opportunity then froze a second day while they tried again. Eventually they got $18.9m. Hope springs eternal I guess – among share traders as well as mining companies.

The reason for this hunger for capital is that they think they are close to getting consent to develop a new open cast mine on the Denniston plateau, home to unique sandstone wetland ecosystems with stunted vegetation, rare geckos, giant snails and kiwi, virtually predator-free. And not just one mine: they plan this to be the first of several, virtually covering the plateau with big holes, targeting some 84 million tonnes of the dirty black stuff.

They are somewhat lacking in the folding stuff because environmentalists have opposed their plans in the courts and held them up for a disgraceful 2 years. Meanwhile their Cascade mine on the edge of that plateau has run into expensive trouble and is delivering little coal, as we hear the new area of coal they moved into turned out to be deeper and thinner and less accessible than expected, and the roads they built were so steep they were banned from using them for safety reasons.

The Escarpment mine on Denniston will take a lot of capital to develop. They need roads, a processing plant, transport infrastructure and removal of the useless “overburden” (that’s the mining name for the biosphere) before they get any coal. Then when they do, they have to pay L&M, from whom they bought the mine, two lots of $40m before they can take much for their long-suffering shareholders.

Their money in the bank seems to amount to $20m. They have a loan facility with Westpac and recently defaulted on some aspect of the agreement (we don’t know what) and Westpac converted it from a term loan to an on-call provision.

No wonder they need money. But if you are a NZ shareholder and want to help them out – sorry, you can’t. This fantastic offer is only available to Australian shareholders. So much for pretending to be a NZ company.

Perhaps we should be grateful – New Zealanders don’t need to get their fingers burnt any more by the mining giants with their preposterous schemes. We have already used millions of tax payer dollars to support Solid Energy’s briquetting boondoggle in Mataura which after 18 months still doesn’t work. If Australians can be found to lose their cash – well, that’s their problem.

Stop the Petroleum Summit – rise up for climate justice and a fossil free future!

An important callout from our friends at Oil Free Wellington. Groups from around the country will be represented at this event – it’s a great chance to show the oil industry and the Government the depth of opposition to their drilling and fossil fuel exploitation plans.

At the bottom of this post, there’s news of a Greens/Oil Free Otautahi meeting in Christchurch on the issue.

Stop the Petroleum Summit – call to action: Wednesday 18 September

Next month on the 18th and 19th September the Petroleum Summit is set to take place in Wellington.

Our oceans are being sold off, seismic surveying is set to take place in the Pegasus Basin and exploratory drilling in the Great South Basin and off Taranaki within months, onshore oil and gas production including fracking is expanding and our right to protest and privacy is being removed.

This Petroleum summit comes at a time when our climate, livelihoods and environment are being threatened like never before.

With representatives from the oil and gas industry and Government coming together for two days with the purpose of the expansion of this destructive and unsustainable industry, now is the time to act. Now is the time for us rise up and voice a collective NO to fossil fuel extraction agenda, and YES to a sustainable and equitable future.

Therefore, we are calling for action and solidarity from our allies around Aotearoa to join us in Wellington to stop this summit from it’s business as usual.

With the industry behind this summit threatening our future, and with summit sponsors such as war-mongering corporate giant Halliburton, we hope that groups and allies in peace and social justice movements will also join in this action.

We will meet on Wednesday 18th at 7.15am sharp outside the Railway Station (next to the Gandhi statue) and march to the Petroleum summit at Westpac Stadium. We will voice our opposition powerfully, creatively,and peacefully. We know it’s early, but we’ll have coffee on hand. Please be on time so we can march together.

Bring banners, noisemakers, whistles, pots, pans, costumes, musical instruments, friends, whanau and anything else to help make this event lively and festive.

If you are travelling from out of Wellington and need a place to stay, email the address below and we can help out. We also hope to have a chance to share some kai, stories, plans and korero on the evening of the 18th. Venue TBC

The oil and gas industry think they own Aotearoa and can carry out their national conference of polluters without a hitch. Lets show them they’re wrong.

For info or questions please email oilfreewellington@gmail.com

With aroha and solidarity
The Oil Free Wellington Crew

Christchurch Public Meeting, Friday 20 September: Green Party and Oil Free Otautahi

A callout from Gareth Hughes MP:

The National Government is rolling out the red carpet to oil companies who can now put in bids for the right to do risky exploratory deep sea drilling off New Zealand’s coastline.

We saw the economic and environmental damage that can be done with the Rena disaster and that’s small in comparison to the potential damage of a deep sea oil spill. We need to take this chance while the door is open to show the Government that New Zealanders don’t want to put our precious coasts at risk of catastrophic oil spills. We need to lay out a better option.

To learn more about the drilling and what you can do to help stop it, please join me and special guest speaker Siana Fitzjohn (Oil Free Otautahi) for a public meeting in Christchurch.

When: 7pm, Friday 20th September
Where: Knox Church, 28 Bealey Ave, Christchurch (Click for map)

If you can make it to the meeting, please RSVP.

If you can’t make it but want to be kept up to date about the issue, click here to join the Kiwi Bid.

Thanks, hope to see you there!

The Unequal Battle for the Environment: Update On Mangatawhiri Hearings, 3 September

Jeanette Fitzsimons follows up her earlier report, Second Elephant Needed at Mangatawhiri:

Today there was no elephant, despite the need for two. It just shows how hard it is for unpaid voluntary activists to be there all the time at a hearing like this – an hour’s drive from where most anti-coal people live, during working hours. No-one was available today to be the elephant. Most were preparing to give their submissions.

It was also child care time. Our own Marisa, pregnant with her twins, had her pre-school son there and was diverting him with his own video screen and an apple and frequent trips outside, at the same time as trying to record our submitters and witnesses.

(Here’s a request from Marisa: If you’re on Facebook, please Like the climate elephant!)

Fonterra’s lawyers had no such constraints – on well paid time, transport and meals funded, children, if they have any, being cared for elsewhere. Such is the unequal battle for the environment.

Some interesting issues that arose include: can a financial agreement with an affected person absolve the firm from meeting standards for dust pollution at that person’s home? What about if they sell it? What about people who visit? that issue is flagged to come back on the table for discussion.

There is no baseline data for the state of the environment before the coal mine. They propose to monitor levels of dust and noise but how can we know what is caused by the mine if there is no date from before? They propose to monitor for a month before, to establish such data. This is a nonsense. We need at least a couple of years’ data to see what happens in every weather and season.

All this of course would be unnecessary if we looked a little wider and adopted a renewable fuel technology that leaves the coal in the hole and uses a fuel that is renewable and clean and currently being wasted. That is the substance of CANA’s submission today. The first part is just legal argument that our concerns are relevant. the second part outlines an alternative scenario to avoid the mine.

Our witness John Gifford gave it weight with his experience and knowledge:

We were not prevented from presenting this, but the chair has said he thinks it is not relevant and will give it little or no weight. The legal argument is designed to make him think again about this.

The hearing adjourned at lunchtime and reconvenes again tomorrow at 9am

Second Elephant Needed at Mangatawhiri

Today began the second week of hearings on Glencoal’s (a wholly owned coal mining subsidiary of Fonterra’s who sell only to their parent company) application for consents to construct an open cast coal mine on 30 ha of farmland beside SH2 at Mangatawhiri. The hearing is before a panel of three commissioners, on behalf of the regional and district councils, chaired by David Hill.

Last week was totally given over to evidence from Fonterra (Glencoal). Today the panel will hear from local residents who support the mine. I’m told they are the ones closest to it and potentially most affected by the dust, noise, etc it will create. But they are supporting Fonterra, who told one of the submitters that they had “reached an arrangement”. How much, of course, will be confidential.

Then the panel will hear from Catherine Delahunty, representing the Green Party, and from local residents opposed to the mine.

Throughout the hearing an elephant has sat quietly in the front row, silent and well-behaved, with a sign around his neck “Climate change is the elephant in the room”. No-one, to my knowledge has referred to his presence, just as no-one is allowed to refer to climate change, the chief reason for opposing new coal mines, because previous courts have ruled that that is what the law means.

But climate change is not the only elephant in the room and needs a mate.

Tomorrow CANA is due to appear at 9am. Our submission focussed only on the availability of a solution which would avoid all the adverse effects of the mine, while creating the same benefits, including more jobs. We have an excellent expert witness, John Gifford, who has spent his career working on the use of wood as fuel. Among other senior positions he has worked for Forest Products and Scion over the years. He calculates that there is enough waste wood from forestry operations, most of which is currently left to rot, to replace the 120,000 tonnes of coal a year the mine would extract. All of it is within 110 km of the dairy factories and much of it is within 30 km.

CANA argues that it is time to start a transition to wood fuels in place of coal, and that could start by co-firing wood and coal in the current boilers. Using just wood would require capital investment in different handling and combustion facilities, but a new mine requires capital investment too. What we want is a commitment from Fonterra to start this transition.

However the chair’s ruling on the legal submission I made on Friday, says that this hearing is just about the mine and its effects. The use of the coal, and alternatives to it are not on the table. But Fonterra itself presented evidence from two witnesses on why using wood was not an option for them. This has opened the door, according to the chair, for us to rebut that evidence. But they expect our evidence to be tabled and are “unlikely to require” that our witness appear.

It seems one of the arguments, made by Fonterra (or was it Glencoal?) is that they are two separate companies. Glencoal has made the application and they are not responsible for what Fonterra does with the coal when it is sold to them – in fact it could, the chair speculated, even be sold to someone else!

Ah – but the economic benefit claimed for the project is all in terms of feeding Fonterra’s boilers and allowing our largest industry to continue on its merry course. Seems to me they can’t have it both ways.

Our second elephant would have a sign around his nick, “Wood waste is the second elephant in the room”.

At this stage we don’t know whether “unlikely to require” means “will not permit” our witness to appeal. So we are going ahead as planned. A number of journalists are interested in wood waste as an alternative to the mine so the work will never be wasted.

I’ll let you know after tomorrow what happens.

– Jeanette Fitzsimons