Greenpeace escalated the climate change and energy debate at Port Tauranga today as the first shipment of coal for Genesis' Huntly power station arrived from Indonesia. Inflatables sped to the bow of the 187m vessel Almar, and climbers hung a banner off the side which read "Choose Clean Energy". At the same time, a clean answer to our energy problems was symbolically unveiled - a line of 10 large windmills floating alongside the ship.
Greenpeace is calling for the Government to redirect New Zealand's energy system away from fossil fuels and to develop an energy strategy for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
"The Government has done nothing to stem the tide of more polluting power, in fact it's adding to the problem by planning more fossil fuels power stations as 'dry year reserve'", said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson.
"If the Government really wants to break our reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, where is the strategy to lead the country to a renewable future? Where are the policies, electricity market changes and incentives to drive renewable energy development? The answer certainly does not lie in this shipment of dirty old coal".
"SOEs Genesis and Solid Energy have exploited the energy crisis to embed burning polluting coal into our energy system. 11 million tonnes of coal in the deal will release millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide to cook the climate when clean alternatives are readily available. Genesis is now negotiating for a new $17 million gas turbine and the Government recently allocated $21 million to find more oil and gas. All this money would be better channelled into renewable energy projects, energy efficiency and conservation measures."
"New Zealand has one of the best wind resources in the world and we should be rapidly expanding our use of this plentiful, clean energy source to meet our energy needs", said Ms Atkinson. EECA has reported that New Zealand's wind power could meet our energy needs three times over (May 2001).
"The new Electricity Commission's focus should be to massively increase wind farms and other renewable energies with a view to decommissioning coal, gas and oil plants, not embedding more polluting power".
"Pete Hodgson directed SOE Timberlands West Coast Ltd to stop logging our native forests, and he has the same power to instruct SOE energy generators to invest only in clean renewable energies like wind farms".
"All future energy supply must only come from a well balanced mix of renewable sources to provide a stable energy supply that doesn't cook the climate – and the Government needs to create an energy strategy to get there," concluded Ms Atkinson.