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You Control Climate Change

The Power is in Your Hands - You Control Climate Change

Auckland, Thursday 6 July 2006 – Whilst the New Zealand Government is developing a work programme for its climate change and energy policies, Greenpeace is hitting the streets with its Clean Energy Guide which ranks electricity companies according to their impact on the climate now and in the future.

"This time we are taking the campaign to a new level and going to people's homes, starting in Whangarei and Auckland. We will be talking to them face to face about where their electricity comes from; how burning fossil fuels for energy generation is contributing to climate change; and the choice they can make to buy electricity from a clean renewable energy company." explains Greenpeace climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson.

"New Zealanders have been in the dark for years about where their electricity comes from and the Clean Energy Guide is a tool to help consumers choose the cleanest electricity provider in their area.

"We have relaunched it now due to strong public demand. Even we had underestimated the public interest in this information - we distributed over 80,000 guides and ran out in the first week. Climate and energy issues are key this year with scientists issuing more and more dire warnings about climate change and the Government reviewing its climate and energy policies." says Ms Atkinson.

Greenpeace ranked companies on how they currently generate electricity, and what their future generation plans and policies are regarding developing renewable energy sources or burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

A greater emphasis was placed on future plans and future policy commitments on energy sources. The worst climate offenders are in the red at the top of the thermometer – because of their contribution to global warming - and the cleanest electricity providers are at the bottom in the green (1). The ranking is based on climate impacts and not on other environmental issues, nor is it an endorsement of any company (2)

"Mighty River Power is ranked in red due to its proposal to fire up Marsden B, New Zealand's first coal fired power station in 25 years.(3) Marsden B would annually release up to 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – the worst greenhouse gas. There is strong local opposition to it in Whangarei which makes it an obvious place to relaunch the Clean Energy Guide." said Ms Atkinson.

In a recent independent poll conducted by TNS for Greenpeace in October 2005, 70% of people surveyed would prefer to purchase electricity that comes from clean, renewable generation sources such as wind or hydro.

In some areas consumers may save money by making the clean energy switch. In others it could cost as little as a cup of coffee a month (4). 66% of people surveyed also said they would be willing to pay more for clean, renewable electricity. Of these, almost three quarters (74%) were prepared to pay an extra $11 or more per month, while over 10% were prepared to pay an additional $90 or more per month.

"Electricity companies should take their customers' preference for clean energy into account and stop investing in outdated, dirty fossil fuels like coal and instead invest in renewable energy like wind and solar." says Atkinson.

For more information: www.CleanEnergyGuide.org Greenpeace climate campaigner, Vanessa Atkinson 021 565 165 Greenpeace communications officer, Tamsin Vuetilovoni 021 577 556 For free images: www.greenpeace.gen.nz

NOTES TO THE EDITOR: (1) Electricity companies were put into the following three categories. The worst climate offenders are in the red at the top of the thermometer and the cleanest electricity providers are at the bottom in the green.The numbers indicate their actual rank.

Red Companies: Currently burn coal, oil or gas for electricity - or plan to do so in the future. Mercury (MRP) Genesis & Energy Online Contact & Empower Bay of Plenty Electricity

Orange Companies: Only use renewable energy sources for electricity, but have no policy to only invest in renewable sources in the future. (For the purposes of ranking "no policy to only invest in renewable sources in the future" also includes companies that have no stated policy on future generation options, or that refused to answer the question). King Country Electricity TrustPower

Green Companies: Only use renewable energy sources for electricity and have a policy to only invest in renewable sources in the future. Meridian Energy

Companies are allocated scores on the basis of existing generation and proposed generation and their policy on future energy development. A stronger weighting is placed on planned generation as these developments will determine our energy future. A greater penalty has been given to coal as this produces the most carbon dioxide of all the fossil fuels, therefore contributing the most to climate change. Positive emphasis is also placed on companies that have committed to only using renewable energy sources in the future.

(2) This ranking reflects the opinion of Greenpeace and is intended to give Greenpeace supporters and the public an indication of the relative impact of different electricity companies on the climate according to their use, planned use and policy commitments on different energy sources. The ranking assesses companies on their relative impact on climate change only. It does not assess companies on other environmental issues, nor is it an endorsement of any company.

(3) Mighty River Power (who own Mercury Energy) is planning the first major coal-fired power station in the country for over 25 years, at Marsden B near Whangarei. The proposal attracted a nationwide outcry and a record number of submissions to the Regional Council (over 3,000), of which over 95% were opposed.

Despite this, Mighty River Power was granted resource consents in September 2005 to proceed with the station. In October 2005 Greenpeace lodged an appeal against this decision in the Environment Court. In February 2006, Mighty River Power called for proceedings to be put on hold while it negotiated access to Department of Conservation land. In June 2006, Mighty River Power asked for an extension until 14 July 2006.

(4) Based on an average Auckland household using prices from the Ministry of Economic Development price schedule and Statistic New Zealand's estimate of average yearly household usage at 8,000 kWh. Note exact price differences may vary depending on location and current supplier.

ENDS


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