Monthly Archives: June 2015

Who’s the real threat to security: Govt climate policy – or four climbers?


Coal Action Network Aotearoa today congratulated the Greenpeace climbers on the roof of Parliament drawing attention to the lack of Government action on climate change.

GPACTION“Who is the bigger threat to security here:  John Key’s apparent intention of letting global temperatures rise by 4degC by taking virtually no action  – or four peaceful activists and a few solar panels on a roof?” asked Jeanette Fitzsimons of CANA.

The Greenpeace action comes on the back of a Dutch Court yesterday ordering its Government to increase its 2020 emissions reduction target of 17% to at least 25%.  New Zealand’s target is 5 percent.

“The Dutch Government’s 2020 target was already better than New Zealand’s – yet the court ordered it to increase that target in order to ‘protect its citizens’.  The world is moving to tackle climate change, yet New Zealand seems intent on doing as little as possible,” said Cindy Baxter of CANA.

Giant Native Snails New Zealand’s Latest Stranded Asset

Solid Energy bet big on coal. They bet wrong. And the latest victims of Solid Energy’s arrogance and mismanagement are the giant native snails the company had promised to protect.


Coal Action Network Aotearoa condemns the news that Solid Energy has given up on its commitment to protect the native snails, some of which had been stored in fridges after the state coal mining company destroyed their habitat.

The cost of keeping Powelliphanta augusta – sacrificed for coal – from extinction has now fallen on the cash-strapped Department of Conservation. These snails are regarded as living fossils due to their ancient lineage, and have developed a set of peculiar characteristics that is totally unique in the world. They represent a small but significant part of our natural heritage that deserves to be saved. They’re carnivorous, hermaphroditic, and critically endangered. The snails will now be left to their own devices on land that is increasingly encroached by mining. Continue reading

Making Unwise Investments With Our Superannuation

By Zella Downing, Coal Action Network Aotearoa 

Climate risk is being linked to investment risk, which makes sense.

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An unstable climate creates an unstable globe which creates an unstable market. How can commodity investors feel confident about their investment amidst record droughts, devastating floods, unprecedented snowfall, and an absence of water?

What doesn’t make sense is the New Zealand Superannuation Fund increasing its investment in coal over the last three years when the global movement to divest from coal is not only gaining momentum, it’s gaining mana as well.

Analysis by the Parliamentary Library and released by the Greens last week tells us our Superfund increased the value of its investments in the world’s twenty dirtiest coal companies from $29 million at June 30, 2011 to $36 million at June 30, 2014. As the Fund has increased its exposure to these companies, their average (unweighted) stock price declined by 31 percent.

This comes amid warnings from global investment analysts Mercer, who last week released the results of a year-long modeling exercise that looked at the impact of climate change on investments. Backed by the World Bank’s IFC, the German Economics Ministry and the UK’s Department for International Development, amongst others, it says:

“New investment modelling the potential impact of climate change on investments shows the average annual returns from the coal sub-sector could fall by anywhere between 18% and 74% over the next 35 years, with effects being more pronounced over the coming decade (eroding between 26% and 138% of average annual returns over the next 10 years).”
Continue reading

Auckland Coal Action Exposes Fonterra’s Dirty Secret: Coal

fonterra-fuel-for-the-future1 Fonterra has a dirty secret it prefers to keep from the world: many of its dairy plants are powered by the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, coal. Fonterra has made noises about switching to renewable forms of fuel, such as wood waste, for its heat plant, but so far, that’s all there’s been – noises. So Auckland Coal Action decide to call Fonterra out. At the annual Fieldays at Mystery Creek near Hamilton, Auckland Coal Action members and friends handed out the leaflet above, together with little bags of wood chips. Here they are in action:

Auckland Coal Action handing out leaflets and bags of wood chips

Auckland Coal Action handing out leaflets and bags of wood chips

Fonterra was badly embarrassed, and event organisers got the protest moved on – but not before it had made a big media impact. Below you can read posts about the action on Auckland Coal Action’s excellent blog, plus a selection of media coverage. Fonterra’s days of hiding its dirty secret are over. Auckland Coal Action coverage

Selected media coverage

The 2015 Revised Edition of Jobs After Coal: More Timely Than Ever

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The 2015 revised edition of CANA’s report Jobs After Coal: A Just Transition for New Zealand Communities was released on the 2nd of May, in conjunction with a speech CANA organising group member Jeanette Fitzsimons gave at the May Day celebrations in Blackball.

You can download and read:

Since May 2014, when we released the original edition of this report, world coal prices have continued to drop, and in New Zealand, coal mining companies have continued to lay off workers without the slightest concern or provision for the communities they live in. This was underlined just five days after the 2015 version was released, when Solid Energy announced it was getting rid of 151 more positions at its Stockton mine.

While the mining companies and the Government offer nothing, CANA’s report addresses how communities and workers can prepare for the end of coal mining, and lays out pathways that communities and regions can follow to move away from coal and into low-carbon jobs. Continue reading

Fair Shares – or Excuses, Excuses?

Jeanette Fitzsimons wrote this post as she worked on her submission to the Government’s just-completed climate change target consultation process.

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Like hundreds of New Zealanders I went to one of the Government’s consultation meetings (Hamilton, where there were 70 people) on what our climate change target should be in Paris this year. Now I’m wresting with their Discussion Document as I write my submission to the process.

The document suggests we should do “our fair share” – hardly a goal anyone could disagree with – until you read the caveat “in light of our unique national circumstances”. There follows a pathetic list of excuses for why we should do much less than others – a list of special pleadings crying poor me and arguing we are disadvantaged. I am embarrassed that these arguments are being made in our name in international meetings so let’s look at whether they have any merit.

It is hard for us to reduce emissions because we have a lot of agriculture where there aren’t easy options and we supply food to the rest of the world which is important

We have chosen to make our living with dairy farming, and must take responsibility for the consequences. It’s not as though the rest of the world would starve without our dairy products. Most of it now is infant formula, replacing superior breast milk in China so that mothers can go straight back to work. Dairy products are luxury foods. Lower intensity farming with better management of wet soils and use of breeds that emit less methane could at least reduce those emissions.

While we are held accountable for our food exports, we have outsourced most of our manufacturing to China and other places, and considerable industrial emissions with it. We consume those products but are not accountable for their emissions.

Government also persists in supporting conversion of forests to dairy farms by its own LandCorp, showing they are not serious about stopping agricultural emissions growing. Continue reading