Earth to National: there is this thing called climate change
Auckland 14 August 2008 – Greenpeace is accusing the National Party of living in an alternate reality in which there's no such thing as climate change.
"This is potentially the next government of New Zealand, and its energy policy completely fails to acknowledge the biggest collective crisis we're ever faced," says Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid. "The policy reads like something from the 1970s."
The National Party's policy does not rule out coal, does not support renewables to any significant degree and fails to mention energy efficiency and conservation.
"We wouldn't have expected much more from "sexy coal" Brownlee (1), but we're disappointed that John Key, who has widely acknowledged that climate change is a huge problem, hasn't managed to convince his caucus of the need for urgent action.
"More fossil fuel generation means more costs for the taxpayer, because our Kyoto bill will just keep skyrocketing unless we switch to low carbon energy options."
Greenpeace is rubbishing the party's security of supply claims. "National argues we need fossil fuel electricity generation in order to safeguard security of supply, which is totally untrue.
"Latest figures suggest that 1,520MW of new generation will be commissioned over the next four years – more than twice what is required to meet the increase in demand and most of which will be renewables. This amount includes over 745MW of geothermal baseload generation.
"Security of supply is a poorly-masked excuse for what is clearly a major nod and wink to fossil fuel, big business interests."
Ms McDiarmid said National was pushing gas like it was a clever solution, but was neglecting to mention that gas is a climate-polluting fossil fuel which need not and must not be part of New Zealand's energy future.
She said there was clearly some dissent within National when it came to climate change. "National's Environment Spokesman Nick Smith came onboard Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior earlier this year and categorically stated that 'coal is the worst form of generating electricity' and that 'we need to provide for greater renewable energy'. National's left hand needs to speak to its right hand and the party as a whole needs to wake up and smell the crisis."
Ms McDiarmid said National's support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) was another nod to the fossil fuel industry. "CCS is a risky, expensive and unproven technology (2). Relying on CCS in order to keep burning fossil fuels is like wilfully contracting a disease in the hope that medical science may one day provide a cure. It's a dangerous justification for continuing with business as usual."
"The reality is clear. Climate scientists say global emissions must peak by 2015 and quickly reduce from that point. We're currently increasing emissions at a rapid pace. National Party policies are only going to make things worse."
Last year Greenpeace commissioned a major report into sustainable energy which found that we can infact achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025 whilst maintaining security of supply (3).
Greenpeace is calling for a domestic emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020.
(2) Greenpeace International released a report into CCS in May this year: "False Hope: why carbon capture and storage won't save the climate". It's available at: www.greenpeace.org/ccs. Also available: the Executive Summary of the report, an information sheet on CCS, three graphics (as PDFs) showing: the process of carbon capture; an overview of geological storage options and leakage pathways and potential impacts of CO2 escape, plus the NGO statement on carbon capture and storage.
(3) The New Zealand Energy Revolution: How to prevent climate chaos - http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press/reports/nz-energy-revolution-report