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Greenpeace halts Huntly coal import from unloading

Greenpeace halts Huntly coal import from unloading

Tauranga, 21 August 2003; 4.00pm - Greenpeace activists boarded the vessel Atermon today as it berthed in Port Tauranga, preventing 30,000 tonnes of coal from being unloaded. The Indonesian coal is to be burnt at Genesis’s Huntly Power Station, fuelling global warming by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Activists climbed the ship’s side, preventing the coal from being unloaded, and displayed banners reading ‘Reject polluting power’.

“This shipload of dirty old coal is just the tip of the iceberg. Genesis is negotiating to import one million tonnes of coal every year, on top of a recent deal struck with Solid Energy for 11 million tonnes of coal over the next eight years,” said climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson.

“The Government must step in and cancel current negotiations for the importation of one million tonnes of coal every year. State owned enterprises such as Genesis must be brought in line with government policy and invest in clean renewable energy such as wind.”

“New Zealand is moving into a phase where we will be burning more coal for electricity generation than at any other time in our history. In this age of climate change we need to be rapidly phasing out fossil use not increasing our dependency on coal – the most greenhouse gas polluting of all fossil fuels.”

“Over the next eight years, Genesis plans to increase the amount of coal it burns at Huntly by about 19 million tonnes. This will release an additional 45.6 million tonnes of climate changing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

“While the Government is trying to tackle agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, they are also hypocritically consenting to Genesis increasing climate pollution. Many fine words have been said about renewable energy as the future for New Zealand, yet Government actions continue to embed more dirty coal into our electricity system.”

Coal facts:

* Genesis has publicly stated that they will be running Huntly Power Station on 80% coal and 20% gas. Three years ago it ran on only 20% coal * Burning coal produces 72% more carbon dioxide than burning gas * It takes 1000 trucks to move this shipment of 30,000 tonnes of coal. This volume of coal can be burnt within 30 hours when Huntly runs at full capacity.

“Globally we need to break our fossil fuel dependency to avoid dangerous climate change. As part of this, our Government should develop an electricity system from 100% renewable sources, decommission fossil fuel power stations and actively bring on line clean alternatives,” concluded Ms Atkinson.

For information contact: Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson 021 565 165 or Greenpeace Communications Officer Dean Baigent-Mercer 021 790 817.

Backgrounder: Coal Shipment, Port Tauranga, 21 August 2003.

Ship: Atermon, 178 metres, Greek owned but flagged (registered) in the Bahamas. Arriving at Port Tauranga on Tuesday 19 August.

Cargo: 30,000 tonnes of Indonesian coal was loaded onboard at Port Tanjung Bara in the northern Indonesian province of Kalimantan, approximately three weeks ago.

This is the last in a series of three shipments of coal for use in Genesis’ Huntly coal and gas fired power station, in the Waikato. These three shipments have been the first imports of coal for use as fuel, possibly since the Second World War. The coal will be trucked to Huntly and some stockpiled in a disused quarry in Matamata.

A total of 90,000 tonnes of coal, including this shipment, has been imported from Indonesia this year for use at Huntly. The coal is being imported, as domestic supply is not enough.

Coal use is on the rise in New Zealand

New Zealand is moving into a phase where we will be burning more coal than at any other time in our history.

* Genesis has publicly stated that they will be running Huntly power station on 80% coal and 20% gas in the next few years. This is a complete reversal of the situation three years ago when it ran on only 20% coal.

* Genesis and Solid Energy have signed a deal for 11.408 million tonnes over the next 8 years, locking in this increase in coal dependency until 2011.

* Genesis is currently negotiating to import one million tonnes of coal every year from 2004: 500,000 tonnes from Indonesia and 500,000 tonnes from northern Queensland, Australia.

* This year more coal is likely to be barged up to supply Huntly from Solid Energy’s West Coast mines.

* Over the next 8 years, state owned company Genesis Power intend to burn at least 19 million tonnes of coal at Huntly above it’s previous production, releasing approximately 45.6 million tonnes of climate changing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

* Solid Energy is also proposing a new 150MW coal fired power station in the Buller region.

Coal

* Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and produces the most carbon dioxide (CO2) of any fossil fuel and burning coal produces 72% more CO2 than burning gas11 Based on carbon dioxide production figures from New Zealand Energy Information Handbook, 1993, J.T.Baines.; and

* CO2 is the major global contributor to climate change.

Global imperative to tackle climate change and phase out fossil fuels

Global warming is the most serious environmental problem facing the planet today. It is caused mainly by an increase in CO2 levels from the burning of fossil fuels for energy. “Greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide and methane are thickening the natural canopy of gases in our atmosphere causing it to heat up and our climate to change. This results in climatic instability and more extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, rising sea levels and glacial retreat.

To slow global warming, we have to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. 75% of recoverable fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground - never to be used as fuels - if we want to keep global temperature increases under one degree Celsius and avoid dangerous levels of climate change. To do this, energy services globally need to be met through the efficient use of non-greenhouse gas emitting, renewable energy.

Renewable energy needs to be developed quickly in New Zealand for the country to reap medium to long-term benefits. Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed now to ensure that we will be able to meet reduction targets in twenty to fifty years.

Government Responsibilities: The Kyoto Protocol

The New Zealand Government signed the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to address climate change, on the 10 November 2002. New Zealand therefore has international commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Electricity Generation in New Zealand

An energy strategy is urgently needed to map out a transition to an electricity system of 100% renewable sources in New Zealand by 2020, and to create a truly secure, reliable and environmentally sustainable electricity system.

New Zealand has one of the best wind resources in the world, yet also one of the most underdeveloped with only about 0.5% of our energy supplied by wind. Other countries with poorer wind resources have much more of their energy supplied by wind - Denmark already has 18% of its electricity from wind. But these successes only occurred when the governments in those countries took the lead and put in place a policy framework and supporting mechanisms such as mandatory renewable energy targets, to drive the renewable energy development. The same must happen here.

The current unregulated market system and policies are clearly not working. The New Zealand Government must take the lead and develop an energy strategy and supporting mechanisms, if we are to have a truly sustainable, reliable and secure energy system.

For more information see the Greenpeace report Winds of Change: Exploring New Zealand’s phenomenal wind resource and options to drive renewable energy development. Available online at http://www.greenpeace.org.nz

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