Monthly Archives: May 2015

One more week to tell the Government what climate action you want to see

This is a reminder that the Government’s consultation on what climate action New Zealand should take after 2020 is underway, and will finish on June 3, a week from today.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 9.16.14 amMany of you have attended the Ministry for the Environment’s meetings up and down the country.  The officials have clearly been surprised at the interest in its roadshow, having to make last-minute switches to larger venues in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.  Well done everybody for turning out.

However, many have been concerned and frustrated at the summaries given at the end of those meetings, which, many argue, did not reflect the strength of feeling among participants.  One person was taking notes, but we have no idea whether our strength of feeling has been properly conveyed to officials or, indeed, whether it will reach the ears of Ministers.  The media is certainly not helping us in this regard.

It’s  important that you make your voice heard in writing.

It does now look like MfE will make submissions public on its website. We look forward to reading those from industry, especially, given their public silence on this issue.

How can you make a submission?

Easy online submissions through various organisations
If you want your voice heard, but don’t have time to read through all the background and write your own, here’s some online submission forms that will make it easier for you:

Write your own submission

More details on the consultation

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Government consultations on climate policy

The Government is in the middle of its super-fast public consultations on its post-2020 climate policy – or its “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC) – commonly known as a post 2020 emissions reduction target that must be submitted ahead of the climate talks in Paris later this year.

We hope the Government will take its head out of the sand for its post-2020 policy.  Photo credit: Ruth Dyson

We hope the Government will take its head out of the sand for its post-2020 policy. Photo credit: Ruth Dyson

They’ve already held a week of meetings around the country – our apologies for not getting this message to you earlier.

Please find pasted below the list of public meetings over the next two weeks – in Rotorua(today), Auckland (today), New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

It is important that as many of us take part in these meetings as possible, to give officials the message that we care about NZ having a strong climate change policy.
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Coal is in a deep dark hole, let’s keep it there

Coal Action Network Aotearoa have been hearing rumblings about a new coal mine being developed just 10km from Westport, on the West Coast of the South Island of Aotearoa. Given that the rest of the world is moving away from mining coal, it seems ludicrous that anyone is seriously considering pushing ahead with this crazy venture. So who is it, and what are their plans?

The proposed Te Kuha mine is a joint venture between Stevenson Group and Rangitira Developments. So at least this venture has some experience of coal mining going into it (unlike Bathurst Resources on Denniston). Stevenson Group are the largest coal mining contractors in Aotearoa, and they just lost the contract in Takitimu, Southland after being shut down by Worksafe due to unsafe Health & Safety procedures on site. So Stevenson’s have a whole heap of idle equipment which I am guessing they are keen to deploy, least it lay unused.

According to the Greymouth Star 28th July, 2014, the total mining lease area covers 860ha, with the mine footprint proposed to be in 70ha of that. A DOC report to the West Coast Conservation Board in Hokitika on Friday, 25th July, 2014 said that two concessions have been received for 14 hectares of stewardship land and 1.59km of haul road (also on stewardship land). This report has been requested under the Official Information Act but no response has been forthcoming, from either DOC or the Conservation Board. It should be in the public record because it is public land, and we have an interest in what goes on in stewardship land. When will DOC allow the public to have their say over the land that is held in stewardship? None of the relevant councils have received any resource consents for applications, but if they were to, I would certainly hope that they would be publicly notified applications.

Because CANA have not been able to access this public information, we are not entirely sure of the location of the proposed mine. Forest & Bird have commented that they believe the land to have high conservation value. There have been previous attempts to mine this area over many years. In 2001, the Buller District Council voted 6-5 against poisoning their water supply (and allowing the coal mine to go ahead). If the coal mine had gone ahead, it would have had significant costs to the Westport township’s water supply and this seems to be have the reason that the council voted against it.

Stevenson’s are strutting their supposedly local credentials (despite being based in Auckland) and claiming obliviousness to the global price of coal. How can any company be immune to the increasingly depressing future of coal? With the grim situation at nearby Stockton coal mine (operated by Solid Energy), layoffs at Spring Creek, and Bathurst Resources being so desperate for cash that they’re getting rid of managers and pruning their board, coal mining is on the ropes in New Zealand. CANA have contributed to the conversation around ensuring that there is a just transition for the workers. The head in the sand approach to the looming stranded asset disaster that awaits coal companies is wishful thinking and needs to be put into context. These companies don’t seem to care about the workers; they don’t care about the climate, and need to be stopped.


Looking at recent pictures of Happy Valley, we have a coal company Solid Energy, that have belligerently insisted on starting coal mining and destroying a valuable ecosystem. This pig headedness is despite it being totally uneconomic, and pointless. The diggers have stopped, the kiwi are gone, and for what? So that a coal company can led the workers on a merry goose chase with fingers crossed that it might work out? It is the height of irresponsibility.

Let’s not let such a future await this Te Kuha stewardship land. Ours, not mine.

Laid-off Stockton mineworkers and West Coast community deserve a future

Press Release

Former Solid Energy CEO Don Elder and Finance Minister Bill English turn the sod for Solid's failed lignite briquetting plant in Southland.

The “good old days”? Former Solid Energy CEO Don Elder and Finance Minister Bill English turn the sod for Solid’s failed lignite briquetting plant in Southland.

The Government must step in to help the 113 mineworkers who’ve been dumped by Solid Energy today – and the communities around them – to begin a discussion about an alternative future for the West Coast that doesn’t rely on a boom and bust industry, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

With coal prices forecast to remain at record lows into the foreseeable future, and with investors dumping coal across the world, banking on the coal industry to provide an economic future for the West Coast would be a risky strategy.

On Saturday, CANA released an update of its Jobs After Coal report, which shows that 111 jobs have been lost in the coal industry since March last year. With today’s announcements, that number is now at 224, even with Bathurst Resources’ efforts to dig up more domestic coal to keep itself afloat.
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May Day at Blackball: we call for a new extractive industry on the coast

Jeanette Fitzsimons writes… 

Jeanette Fitzsimons speaking in Blackball on Saturday.

Jeanette Fitzsimons speaking in Blackball on Saturday.

There was a theme for this year’s May Day seminar at Blackball, up the river valley from Greymouth, and crucible for the formation of the mining unions:

“A Sustainable West Coast Economy: dream or possibility?”

CANA was invited to speak about “The problem with the extractive industries”. You can read my speech here – I launched our 2015 Jobs After Coal report, with updated figures on last year.

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New Jobs After Coal report – the future of coal is grim – but a transition to a better economy is underway

Press release

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 1.21.12 pmThe situation for the future of coal in New Zealand is getting increasingly grim by the day, and the Government must start looking at ways to help local economies like the West Coast transition away from coal, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

The warning came from CANA representative Jeanette Fitzsimons, speaking in Blackball for May Day commemorations, where she launched an updated version of the group’s report, “Jobs After Coal.”

“Since we first published this report a year ago, there has been little good news for the coal industry.  Just two days ago, Goldman Sachs again wrote down its outlook for coking coal prices, which are predicted to stay low well into the future.” Continue reading