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Coal’s a goner, renewables workable, can’t wait

Media Release – Wellington – Monday 11 December 2006

Energy Strategy: coal’s a goner, renewables workable, can’t wait till 2012

The Energy Strategy released by the government today is a major step forward and shows that coal is not a viable part of the New Zealand energy picture.

“On existing prices, New Zealand’s whole expected expansion of 1400MW of electricity demand could be met from renewable sources,” says Cath Wallace, co-chair of ECO today.

“This message from officials is the same as that from the market: the news today that Solid Energy has shelved its proposal for a 350MW Buller coal fired power station for lack of interest from investors.”

Cath Wallace said we can’t wait until 2012 to have a comprehensive price on carbon. The government has got to move faster than these documents suggest.”

“The vast weight of international opinion is that the world has only 10 years to reduce emissions. We can’t wait until 2012 – that would mean that 6 of our 10 years would be gone before policies start to become effective.”

“ECO says that the measures relating to electricity for the near term are welcome, but much broader measures are needed. Economic incentives and regulatory measures are needed in 2007, not 2012.”

“The Energy Strategy proposes movement on many fronts to better position New Zealand from 2012. What is disappointing is the limited nature of the proposed measures for the near term – but the proposed use of price signals and incentives to conserve power and encourage distributed power generation are very welcome.”

“The government is clear that coal and lignite are not viable or suitable for power generation in the medium term. It also makes it clear that carbon capture and storage cannot be relied on and is not feasible for at least 20 years.”

Cath Wallace said tackling transport emissions are discussed and there are some useful proposals that deserve to be implemented in 2007 and not left for 2012. “These include mandatory energy efficiency testing and rating, biofuels capability requirements, biofuels blending, conversion of the fleets to being more efficiency and controls on the imports of fuel inefficient vehicles.”

“Urban form changes, and more spending on public transport and active transport (cycling, walking) are also forecast but need more fleshing out.”

“There are some key climate change issues that need to be tackled that are not covered here: the increasing emissions from agriculture and from increasing fuel emissions from fishing boats chasing fewer fish. Conversion of forests to dairying and the intensification of agriculture with increased uses of nitrogenous fertilizers and of methane emissions still need urgent attention.”

“Reassurances to agriculture that the government will give farmers an easy ride, as issued today by Climate Change Minister David Parker, are grossly inappropriate,” says Cath Wallace.

“Positive aspects of the proposals are the moves to encourage distributed electricity generation, to provide incentives for energy conservation, to reduce the gaming by power companies, and to move away from coal.”

“A major question now is whether the government will stand strong against the vested interests that will assail it with special interest pleas at the expense of the community and the environment. Will David Parker and his cabinet colleagues stand strong?”

Cath Wallace said ECO regrets that many of the proposals in this document have been pressed for since the mid 1970s. “ECO itself put forward such proposals, Molly Melhuish, Friends of the Earth, and many others have pressed for such policies for 30 years.”

“It is gratifying that at last officials have picked these up: but how much stronger would New Zealand be if we had had 30 years of sensible investment in energy efficiency and renewables than being in this hasty scramble now?”


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