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Energy mistakes must not be repeated, say Greens

Energy mistakes must not be repeated, say Greens

Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is warning that New Zealand will lurch into another energy crisis if we repeat the mistakes of the past.

"Back in the fuel crisis of the 'Seventies, analysts and environmentalists argued that we should start developing renewable energy sources, use energy a lot more efficiently and eke out our gas resources to help the transition," said Jeanette Fitzsimons. "Now, just like thirty years ago, our energy woes are being compounded by an increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East.

"No-one should be surprised the Maui gasfield is nearing its end. The decision by the government of the day in 1973 to use it up fast determined that it would run out in 30 years.

"The tragedy is that it could have lasted 100 years if we had chosen to use it as a direct fuel, rather than for electricity, which has wasted two thirds of the energy that went into the power station just in converting it. The real problem is that we are in danger of making the same mistakes again.

"Calls for new coal-fired power stations are desperate efforts to postpone the inevitable, and they would also blow our Kyoto commitments (coal produces twice as much greenhouse gas per unit of electricity as gas does) and allow us to do nothing about efficiency and renewables for another decade.

"The only benefit to be gained from the failed policies of the past is in the lessons they can teach us about what works and what doesn't."

The Green Party will strongly lobby the Government to adopt the following measures to deal with energy in a safe and sustainable way:

* Develop a strategy for saving power in dry years to ensure we have enough electricity. This would be a series of steps that would progressively kick-in as a shortage worsened. The first step could be as simple as a reminder to the public that they can make a difference even by just turning computers off at the end of the day. * Develop energy efficiency standards for all motor vehicles entering the country whether new or used and progressively raise them over time as technology improves. * Require WOF emissions testing of all vehicles, to ensure each vehicle is running at optimum efficiency for its age and model. * Increase support for new renewable technologies, such as wind, solar and wood power.

"The wrong choices of 30 years ago are now impacting on this generation," said Jeanette Fitzsimons. "We have no right to saddle the next generation with our mistakes."

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