Category Archives: press releases

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.”

 

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.54.52 AM

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

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.
Continue reading

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

Mining decision a tragedy for Denniston plateau

DumpDennistonLogoCoalPress release

The news that Bathurst plans to start mining at Denniston on 1 July is a tragedy for the stunning ecology of the plateau, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

“Not only is this a tragedy for the beautiful plateau, it is also a tragedy for the climate, as every new coal mine is stealing from our children’s future,” said Jeanette Fitzsimons, a spokesperson for CANA.
Continue reading

Solid Energy layoffs more evidence coal won’t provide secure jobs

Press release 6 June

Coal Action Network activist at the now mothballed Mataura briquetting plant - supposed to provide local jobs, but didn't.

Coal Action Network activist at the now mothballed Mataura briquetting plant – supposed to provide local jobs, but didn’t.

Further layoffs expected today at Solid Energy’s Stockton mine are a warning that coal cannot be relied on for community prosperity and jobs says Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA).

CANA’s new report, Jobs After Coal – a Just Transition for coal mining communities, released two weeks ago, documents the reasons for the world-wide decline in coal mining and argues strongly that workers should not be left to bear the burden of redundancies.

Jeanette Fitzsimons, one of the authors, said “Coal prices are not going up again any time soon, renewable energy is getting cheaper all the time, and climate change means that most of the coal currently available to mine can never be burned anyway.”

“This is all part of the ‘perfect storm’ Don Elder talked of before he resigned.”

“It is urgent to set in place a planning process for communities that are most affected. This should have been done two years ago when the redundancies started, rather than waiting until even more families are suffering.”

“The latest layoffs make it clear that communities cannot rely on a boom and bust industry for their job security.”

A “Just Transition” would provide central government help for a community-led process to analyse where the skills of miners can be transferred to other industries and develop local economic development based on local skills and opportunities.

“It needs to involve all parts of the community – councils, business, unions, iwi, polytechs, ngos,  to plan a future after coal.”

The report provides some snapshots of what other communities overseas have done to reinvent themselves after coal mining, and concludes that the West Coast could do the same with some government resources.

What agreement did the Government make with Indian coal interests?

Energy and Resources Simon Bridges with the Indian steel delegation in his office in January

Energy and Resources Simon Bridges with the Indian steel delegation in his office in January

Statements made in Indian media by Indian Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma after he met with Energy Minister Simon Bridges on 30 January indicate a clear expectation of some kind of deal between the two Governments on coal, said the Coal Action Network Aotearoa today.

We are looking forward to the Government of New Zealand for allocating mineral assets to Indian public sector companies on a Government to Government basis,” said the Minister in an official press statement after the meeting with Bridges.

Today in the House Steven Joyce, on behalf of Simon Bridges, denied that any promises had been given, but refused to rule out sales of coal mines to the Indians.
Continue reading

Minister of Conservation should halt Denniston Plateau mining

Press release

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau.  Photo: Forest & Bird

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau that Bathurst may remove for nothing. Photo: Forest & Bird

Coal Action Network Aotearoa today called on the Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith, to not issue Bathurst Resources the DOC consent it needs to enter and operate its planned mine on the Denniston Plateau, in light of the company’s terrible financial state.

Bathurst has announced today that it is making 29 workers redundant and that it’s not going to mine coal at Denniston until international prices have recovered. However, it intends to go ahead and set up everything else on the plateau in readiness for mining.

This could include the removal of the “overburden” – the beautiful, biodiverse-rich landscape.

Continue reading

Customers queue to demand end to Westpac support of Denniston coal mine

DumpDennistonLogoCoalPress Release from Coal Action Network Aotearoa & 350 Aotearoa

Today Westpac customers queued at the Wellington Cuba Street Westpac branch, forming a continuous line and symbolically withdrawing a dollar to send Westpac a simple message: Westpac customers do not want their money financing climate change.

Participants were quickly forced to leave by Westpac staff despite being Westpac’s own customers.

westpac_image

The action takes place as part of a nationwide week of action initiated by 350 Aotearoa and Coal Action Network Aotearoa. Thirteen cities and towns around New Zealand are holding actions this week demanding Westpac live up to its own sustainability and climate policies and stop financing Bathurst Resources, the company which plans to open a series of new coal mines on the Denniston Plateau.

“New Zealanders have sent more than 1300 letters to Westpac over the past few weeks.  Westpac’s response so far has been that they won’t stop financing and that their climate change policies mean supporting a transition to a low-carbon future. A transition means seeing out existing mines, not opening 5 new ones as Bathurst plans to do,” said 350 spokesperson Ashlee Gross.

“So we’re here today to tell Westpac that if they stall on taking action on climate change, we’ll stall their business.”

An increasing number of major reports have looked at the planet’s remaining “global carbon budget” and highlighted that fossil fuel companies are planning to dig up five times the amount of coal, oil and gas that we can afford to burn in order to keep global warming to the internationally agreed limit of 2 degrees C.

“Westpac claims that sustainability is at the heart of their culture. Westpac needs to prove that their sustainability and climate change policies are more than greenwash,” said Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Tim Jones.

“If Westpac continue to ignore their customers the next step for many will be to switch banks.”

For more coverage and photos from the action see http://350.org.nz/wednesday-westpac-dump-coal-action-in-wellington/

Nationwide week of action calls on Westpac to stop financing climate change

DumpDennistonLogoCoalPress Release from Coal Action Network Aotearoa & 350 Aotearoa

Westpac banks right across New Zealand will be the focus of a week of action this week, calling on the bank to stop funding Bathurst Resources’ bid to mine the Denniston Plateau.

The campaign, organised by 350 Aotearoa and Coal Action Network Aotearoa, began at a leading branch of Westpac in Christchurch on Saturday with around 20 activists staging a “die in” (see YouTube video). Actions will begin rolling out in other centres today, and will continue until next Saturday, with a total of 13 different towns confirmed at this point.

Bathurst Resources plans to dig up to 84 million tonnes of coal from the West Coast’s beautiful Denniston Plateau that would add up to 218 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and have a devastating effect on the area’s unique ecosystem. Westpac is providing financial backing for Bathurst Resources.

‘Westpac has not responded to calls to live up to their own promises and stop funding climate change, so we’re calling on them to do so.  We don’t consider investing in coal mining is at all consistent with Westpac’s claims that it is ‘future proofing’ its business,” said Ashlee Gross of 350 Aotearoa.

Tim Jones of Coal Action Network Aotearoa said the two groups had recently met with bank executives for a discussion about the campaign.

“In our meeting with Westpac, it became very clear to us that their so-called ‘sustainability’ policy is more about PR than it is about real action,” he said.

At least 80% of fossil fuels reserves must remain unburned in order to keep global warming to 2 degrees. The World Bank and European Investment Bank have recently announced their intentions to stop lending to coal projects, based on climate change concerns

The groups have launched a website where the public can send letters to Westpac calling on them to ‘Dump Denniston.’. 1200 letters have already been sent.

There will be activities this week in Warkworth, Auckland (2), Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Wellington, Nelson, Motueka, Takaka, Dunedin, Gore and Invercargill.

Join the event on facebook