Category Archives: fossil fuels

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

Would that Fonterra Would Use Wood!

Jeanette Fitzsimons writes…

Well, actually CANA doesn’t care whether Fonterra uses wood or not. If it finds a way to dry milk with moonbeams, that’s fine by us. What it mustn’t do is keep using coal, let alone expanding it, or expand its gas use.

We’ve been promoting waste wood from forestry because that is abundant, it’s renewable as long as forests are replanted, the technology to burn it is mature, it is found around the country, and we have the local expertise. So, ever helpful, we are getting alongside Fonterra and trying to find a good alternative for them. But the bottom line is, coal must go, and so must gas soon after.

Outside its Edendale dairy factory in Southland, Fonterra gets a clear message.

Outside its Edendale dairy factory in Southland, Fonterra gets a clear message.

Our campaign is having an effect – faster than we expected.

After hearing our evidence (well, our witness Peter Fraser’s evidence) at the Studholme consent hearing that prices are not going to rise enough to make new or expanded dairy farms profitable, and so there will be no milk for the proposed plant to dry, Fonterra has half accepted our argument and dropped one of their two proposed driers. That’s 270,000 new cows they were sure a few weeks ago they had to provide for, which they now agree are not going to materialise. So where is their evidence that the other 270,000 will?
Continue reading

Urgent civil disobedience with 350: what does it feel like?

I found the direct action at the ANZ inspiring and necessary. Here is a snapshot of what a non-violent direct action can feel like.

At the briefing the previous night, we asked questions, especially about arrest, and ran through what we’d do during the action. Snacks, goodwill and optimism were abundant and this theme continued the next morning.

At about 8 am a wall of coal sacks blocked the doors. We linked arms and sang songs. Others handed out leaflets to explain the purpose of the civil disobedience or spoke to media, and buses tooted their support for our divestment message on a prominent banner, with our oil spattered climbers standing on the awning above. Police were present, but not threatening or intimidating towards the main group of protestors.

I ended up sitting next to another doctor. We discussed how emergencies require urgent responses. If you had a heart attack in front of me, I wouldn’t tell you to come back in 2 weeks if your heart attack didn’t feel better. Likewise, urgent direct action is necessary for the health emergency of climate change. It felt good to be doing the right thing.

ANZ  were keen to avoid media coverage. Some customers wanted to get in, but even an older couple who needed to get arrangements for travel sorted that morning told us they supported what we were doing, and were able to get what they needed after some discussion.

By 11 am the lights inside went off, a sign saying they’d closed up for the day was stuck on the door and the remaining staff trailed out through a side exit. Our roof climbers with the banner came down, and we sang waiata of support as they were issued with trespass notices, which was all done in a civilised and friendly manner.

The day was a success, no one was arrested or hurt, and we didn’t have to use the fortitude we had built up the previous night, nor the learned skills of dealing with forcible removal.

Business as usual cannot continue, and breakfree2016 actions around the world coordinated by 350 made that clear. There are risks involved, of arrest, of having force used against you, of upsetting people, and perhaps most worrying of all, of this not producing the changes we urgently need.

This event gave me courage to engage in similar actions again. Between courage and hope, we may have all we need to produce transformation.

“The most common way people give up power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Alice Walker

 

It’s Time To Break Free From Fossil Fuels

From May 4-16, 2016, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects — to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerate the just transition to 100% renewable energy.

break_free_image

In Aotearoa, there will be actions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. All of the actions will adhere to a strictly non-violent kaupapa and will be accessible for all with different levels of involvement available.

When it comes to the future of our planet, it’s fossil fuels or us. So we encourage everyone who can to get involved in these actions. You can sign up for actions here: https://nz.breakfree2016.org/ and you can also join each action on Facebook:

Auckland: https://www.facebook.com/events/1133726439991775/
Wellington: https://www.facebook.com/events/159524387777137/
Christchurch: https://www.facebook.com/events/1702837439985045/
Dunedin: https://www.facebook.com/events/1066761856715041/

A Tale Of Two Hospitals

Christchurch is rebuilding two hospitals – the central one and one at Burwood. One is installing state-of-the-art waste wood boilers, the other plans, bizarrely, to move two existing coal boilers on to the site, costing millions of dollars just to shift in some dirty energy.

Climate and health conscious people around the country and particularly in Canterbury have been vocal about the insanity of this and now there is a glimmer of hope. The tender documents were withdrawn last year and have been reissued. The wording is such that it could be possible to avoid coal.

Jeanette Fitzsimons gives the background and explores the arguments in The Press last week: http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/77738911/why-a-hospital-should-not-be-burning-coal

Don’t Take Our Word For How Bad Mokau South Is – Take Waikato Regional Council’s Word. And Submit By Next Tuesday.

Submissions on Mokau South’ Resources’ proposal to strip-mine the Panirau Plateau in the Mokau River Catchment for coal close next Tuesday, 2 February. We have had a good response to our call for submissions against the project, but we’d love to see even more.

  • Already know you want to help? Find out how in our Mokau South submission guide (Word | PDF)

Some people have said they don’t have time to make a long submission – and that’s fair enough, as we know how busy people are! Your submission doesn’t have to be long, but we think its is important to meet the formal requirements laid out in the submission guide. And here’s why.

Climate Change, the RMA, and Grounds for Submissions

The applicant, Mokau South Resources, was unhappy at the idea that their resource consent application might be publicly notified. They asked why this was being done, and Waikato Regional Council’s scanned response is very revealing of both the scale of the project and the applicants’ attitude:

council_para_1

council_para_2

So there we have it: the project is massive, in an environmentally sensitive area, in a river catchment with high annual rainfall, and the applicants want to avoid a fight on climate change grounds!

Unfortunately, on this last point, the Resource Management Act as it is currently worded is with the applicant: it explicitly excludes consideration of the effects of a project on climate change. A movement is underway to put climate change back in the RMA, but in the meantime, a submission that only mentions climate change can be “struck out for disclosing no relevant case”. That’s appalling, but it’s the law.

(However, some arguments related to climate change can still be made – our submission guide explains how to do that.)

So that’s why we encourage submitters to put in a submission that can’t be struck out, because it refers to the many, many other environmental and economic grounds on which the project is a bad idea. Our submission guide (Word | PDF) provides you with plenty of talking points. Pick one or pick just a few, and make your submission as brief as you like: but please do submit. And once you’ve included grounds that ensure your submission can’t be struck out, we encourage you to state clearly which this project is a terrible idea on climate change grounds.

Mordor on the Mokau

Finally, this Radio New Zealand story provides more information about the applicants and their proposal. It makes them sound like a couple of dear old duffers pursuing their lifelong dream. It’s just a pity that their lifelong dream involves ruining an important natural environment and trashing the world’s climate.

mordor_on_the_mokau

The Coal Industry Wants To Strip Mine The Mokau. Help Us Stop Them.

  • Already know you want to help? Find out how in our Mokau South submission guide (Word | PDF)

As NASA has confirmed, 2015 was the hottest year on record. So the idea of starting any new coal mine represents a dangerous disconnection with reality. But sometimes, we come across a proposal that has that whole extra level of insanity.

hottest_year

Many years ago, before the Resource Management Act came into force, Mokau South Resources was granted a mining licence for an area of regenerating native bush on the Panirau Plateau near the Panirau Stream, a tributary of the Mokau River on the North Taranaki Coast. Their current permit expires in 2016.

So now, despite the state of the coal market and the imperative need not to increase greenhouse gas emissions, Mokau South Resources has applied to Waikato Regional Council for resource consent to strip mine a large area near the Panirau Stream. That’s a terrible idea on climate change grounds. It’s also a terrible idea for the natural environment in North Taranaki and the Waikato.

Coal companies around the world are crashing. China’s coal use has declined and the Chinese Government has banned new coal mines. And the Paris Agreement has signalled the end of the fossil fuel era. But here in New Zealand, while the Government tips them a nod and a wink, the coal industry keeps trying to dig up more of the stuff. They must be stopped.

How To Submit

Submissions on this project close on Tuesday 2 February – so you don’t have long. Working with Waikato Climate Action, we’ve prepared a submission guide (Word | PDF) with many different reasons for objecting to this proposal, and we’d like as many people as possible to submit. You’ll find all the details of how to submit in the guide. You can also read the official Waikato Regional Council information on this application.

Let’s send Waikato Regional Council and the coal industry an unambiguous message: no more new coal mines, no more increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and no more destruction of our natural habitat for the sake of private profit.

  • Get started on your Mokau South submission now with our downloadable submission guide (Word | PDF)

 

Political Consensus Grows Around The End Of Thermal Coal

For anyone still thinking that mining coal and burning it to provide heat or create electricity (that is, mining thermal coal) is a good way to make a buck, August 2015 was full of bad news.

First, Wellington’s Dominion Post newspaper said in an editorial that it was time for New Zealand to slash its coal use. Then, the same day, Genesis Energy announced that it would close the coal-fired power generators at the Huntly power plant by 2018.

No more coal at Huntly ... who'll be next to abandon coal?

No more coal at Huntly … who’ll be next to abandon coal?

But the writing was appearing on the wall even before these announcements. Not only had the thermal coal price dropped precipitately in response to the rise of renewable energy and environmental concerns in coal’s major markets, but there is a growing political consensus that thermal coal mining in New Zealand must stop.

This consensus does not yet include the National Government. While Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges welcomed Genesis Energy’s Huntly decision, and noted that it created further opportunity for renewable energy, he conveniently ignored the Government’s continuing subsiding of fossil fuel mining and use and lack of support for renewables.

The Green Party has long opposed coal mining, and now Labour and New Zealand First are, at least partially, moving in the same direction. In response to the Government’s statement that state-owned coal mining company Solid Energy might be facing liquidation, Labour Party leader Andrew Little – himself a former head of the coal miners’ union, the EPMU – drew a distinction between using coal for heating and power generation, which he agreed was on the way out (audio at 1:41), and using coking coal for making steel, which he said was “part of a green economy.”

New Zealand First’s Richard Prosser was similarly bullish on Solid Energy’s future, but both in his reported comments and in separate discussions with Coal Action Network Aotearoa, NZ First has drawn a distinction between coking coal and thermal coal. New Zealand First’s 2014 election policy calls for a progressive phaseout of coal:

The most effective way to reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (primarily carbon dioxide and methane) is to progressively phase out the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal, and instead use renewable energy eg wind-power, photo-voltaic electricity from sunshine, wood fuels, etc. (Climate Change section of NZ First Environment and Conservation policy)

When we met with New Zealand First, they advocated a similar position to the Labour Party: that is, they expressed continued support for coking coal, but agreed that it was time to move away from the mining and burning of thermal coal.

But while businesses and political parties are moving to end the use of thermal coal, there is one large New Zealand company which is bucking the trend – and that, of course, is Fonterra which, as we reported last month, has increased its coal use 38% since 2008 and plans a further major expansion of coal-fired milk drying plants. Fonterra’s low-value-add, high-energy-input business plan is coming unstuck as global milk prices fall. It’s time for Fonterra to take another path.

Though the political consensus is growing against thermal coal, Labour and New Zealand First are both continuing to back the mining of coking coal – that is, coal used for steel production – even though the coking coal price has also slumped, and burning coking coal is no better for the climate than burning thermal coal. You can read Cindy Baxter’s take on the shaky state of coking coal in her recent analysis of the state of play in the coal industry.

The message to companies such as Fonterra is clear: by backing the increased use of thermal coal, you are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of science, and the wrong side of a growing political consensus.

Global Divestment Day Is Coming. Here’s How To Take Part.

Global Divestment Day spans continents and time zones. It’s being held worldwide on February 13th and 14th – and there are five New Zealand events for you to get involved in.

So what is Global Divestment Day? It’s a day organised by 350.org to increase the pressure on banks and other institutions, as well as individuals, to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies: the miners, drillers, frackers and their backers who are ruining our planet’s climate by their continued extraction of fossil fuels.

Our goal of coal staying in the hole:  achieved!

Let’s keep all the coal in the hole – and stop investing in companies trying to remove it

And it’s a movement that’s gaining momentum. Here in Aotearoa, thanks to the efforts of 350.org.nz, Coal Action Network Aotearoa and other groups, we’ve seen churches, universities and local bodies divest from fossil fuels. On Valentine’s Day, let’s come together to show how much we love the planet and how little we love fossil fuels and those who seek to profit from them.

We’re aware of five events in New Zealand – each is listed on the GDD global map and on Facebook. Please note that the Dunedin event is on Friday 13 February. The other events are on Saturday 14 February:

Matauri Bay: The Big Beach Picnic, Sat 14 Feb, 10.00am, Matauri Bay, Northland. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1596914170539548/

Auckland: Flash Mob, Sat 14 Feb, 12 noon, Silo Park, Corner Jellicoe & Beaumont Streets, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/739039812870728

Hamilton: Picnics and Placards, Sat 14 Feb, 5:00 PM, Hamilton Garden Arts Festival – English Rose Garden. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1530734060526545/

Christchurch: Love Divestment Day, Sat 14 Feb, 1.oopm, Edmonds Garden, 365 Ferry Road. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/632797643492987/

Dunedin: Renewable Affair, Fri 13 Feb, 12 noon, The Octagon, Dunedin. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/625548474240288/

Get along and help build the pressure for worldwide divestment from fossil fuels!

 

 

 

Guest Blog By John Adams: The New Zealand View On Climate Change

New Zealand may be a small contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, but on a per capita basis our emissions are very high, so we have a responsibility to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

220 Christchurch people came to New Brighton Beach for #HeadsInSandNZ. Photo credit: Ruth Dyson

220 Christchurch people show what they think of the Government’s climate policies at #HeadsInSandNZ on Sunday 7 December. Photo credit: Ruth Dyson

Climate science and climate politics are frequently reported in the media, so some form of assessment of New Zealand’s role and options is worthwhile.

At the end of the recent G20 meeting in Brisbane the leaders issued a statement stressing the importance of climate change and the urgency of finding suitable responses.  They recognised that the situation is different in different countries, but stressed that action to reduce emissions will have to come from all quarters and that an easy first move is the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels.

As was commented at the time, that statement was a rebuff for the government in Australia which had not wanted the issue to be discussed at all, and wants no constraints on its mining industry.

It was further commented that Mr. Key, speaking on behalf of New Zealand, has described us as “fast followers” on the issue of emissions reductions.  He wants to see the big players (U.S., China, and Europe) play their cards before he will commit to a course of action.

Mr. Key has used that phrase “fast followers” before and it’s worth stopping to consider it.  Are we really fast?  Are we really following? Could we lead? Is Mr. Key using the phrase to deceive the public into believing that there is action when the reality is quite different? Continue reading