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Lignite a big step in the wrong direction

18th August, 2011

Lignite a big step in the wrong direction – Environment Commissioner

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has today warned the Local Government and Environment Select Committee of the danger of increasing the use of lignite a hundredfold or more.

The warning came in Dr Wright’s presentation on her 2010 report, Lignite and Climate Change: The high cost of low grade coal.

Dr Wright says increasing the use of lignite at the scale that is being planned would mean a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

“While there have been some reassurances from industry, I have seen nothing of substance to back them up.

“Climate change is the most serious environmental threat we face. By mining more lignite we ignore that reality at our peril.

“Not only will make it much harder for us to meet our international climate change obligations but it also takes us away from a low carbon economy.

“Many countries have vast lignite reserves, so New Zealand has no competitive advantage from large scale use of lignite. It is not the way ahead for a country that brands itself as clean and green.”

Lignite is very low quality coal and there are large reserves in Southland and Otago.


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