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Government Chooses Coal Over Climate

The Government’s proposal to increase environmentally destructive coal mining in wetlands and areas of significant biodiversity shows a flagrant disregard for nature and a safe climate, says Forest & Bird.

“New Zealand is already experiencing marine heatwaves and severe flooding, and coal has the biggest impact on the climate of any fossil fuel,” says Forest & Bird General Counsel Peter Anderson. "We condemn these changes."

The Government has today announced that it will remove provisions which effectively prevents new coal mining applications in natural inland wetlands and Significant Natural Areas (see notes).

“This is a triple-hit on the environment. First it will enable destruction of wetlands that are home to unique plants and wildlife. Second, wetlands are key carbon stores. Third, that coal would keep being burnt right into the 2040s and later, by businesses that need to get out of burning coal now.

"This is short-sighted, environmental and climate vandalism. Businesses and communities need to transition away from the use of coal in order to ensure a sustainable future.

“It’s totally out of step with where modern economies, our competitors and our markets are going. We need urgent action on climate change, not a Government that seems hellbent on waging war on nature."

Forest & Bird won a pivotal Environment Court case against Stevenson Mining’s proposed Te Kuha mine last April, partly because the new opencast coal mine would have damaged a natural inland wetland.

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“The Government looks to be going through cases developers have lost in the courts, one by one, and changing the law to allow them to now go ahead regardless of the consequences. That’s anti-nature and anti-democratic.

“New Zealand doesn't need new coal mines destroying wetlands and kiwi habitat. We’re in a biodiversity and climate crisis. It’s time for no new coal mines, not throwing the door open for coal mining in some of our most environmentally sensitive areas.”

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