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Lignite is taxpayer subsidised madness

Embargoed until 5AM Thursday 9 December

Lignite is taxpayer subsidised madness

Plans to mine Southland and Otago lignite will significantly increase New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions at the taxpayer's expense, according to a report welcomed by the Green Party today.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report today entitled Lignite and climate change: The high cost of low grade coal which demonstrates that the proposals to mine and use lignite will result in huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions, much of which could get free carbon credits from the Government under the current Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).

"State-owned Solid Energy's plans for just one liquid fuel conversion plant alone will increase national emissions by 7%, and the taxpayer may end up picking up the entire cost," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

"This report shows the folly of the Government's economic and energy strategies.

"We cannot reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions by digging up and burning dirty low grade coal.

"We cannot develop a sustainable economy by subsidising activities that exacerbate climate change, not to mention the other environmental and social costs of coal mining," said Dr Norman.

The report has three major recommendations, including changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure that new lignite developments and other emitting activities will not be allocated free carbon credits by the Government, and increases in funding to identify and harness opportunities to grow the green economy.

"Subsidising a 19th century energy source that could kill us in the medium term is a stupid idea.

"We have the opportunity and responsibility to actively encourage clean green solutions.

"For innovation to happen, we need a price on all new activities that increase greenhouse gas emissions, and support and incentives for sustainable alternatives," said Dr Norman.


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