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Time to move beyond the Oil Age

Time to move beyond the Oil Age

The environmental disaster caused by the break-up of the oil tanker Prestige off the Spanish coast is yet another reason for the world to move out of the Oil Age, Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"This tragedy should come as no surprise," said Ms Fitzsimons. "There are no guarantees when it comes to the safety of ships: they ground, sink, catch fire and break up in storms all the time. Witness the near-misses in New Zealand waters earlier this year involving the Tai Ping and the Jody F Millennium.

"The litany of nautical disasters makes a mockery of Act's proposal to lift the ban on nuclear powered vessels in our waters.

"Nuclear power confers no special invulnerability to ships. An accident that left a damaged and leaking nuclear reactor at the bottom of the sea would have an even greater impact on our environment than an oil spill."

Ms Fitzsimons congratulated the Government on what appeared to be a firm commitment to the ban on nuclear ships in our harbours, but pointed out that it had voted against her private members bill seeking to ban ships carrying nuclear fuel and waste from New Zealand's 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

"However, it will take an even greater change in the mindset of world leaders to move us out of the Oil Age and into an era of safe, sustainable energy.

"The Oil Age has inflicted incredible damage on the planet and its inhabitants. Consider climate change, pollution and the way in which it has warped world politics, particularly in regard to the Middle East.

"Alternative energy sources such as hydro, wind, solar and fuel-cells are clean, sustainable, safe and require no hazardous transport, within or between countries.

"Until we wake up and embrace those technologies, I'm afraid we must expect more environmental tragedies such as that now unfolding off Spain."

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