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Expanding Coal Mining In 21st Century An “absurd, Selfish Decision” Says WWF

Encouraging new coal mines in Aotearoa New Zealand in the midst of a climate crisis is “downright reckless” and flies in the face of the Government’s own climate targets, says the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) New Zealand.

Resources Minister Shane Jones announced today that the Government will ease the consenting process for setting up new coal mines or expanding existing ones.

WWF-New Zealand’s CEO Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb says the move makes absolutely no sense when the world needs to be transitioning away from fossil fuels.

“The science is unequivocal: if we're going to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, then we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

“Expediting the development of new coal mines in the middle of a climate emergency is utterly shameful and downright reckless. Future generations of New Zealanders will be shouldered with unconscionable costs as a result of this Government’s selfish and short-sighted war on nature.”

Exactly one year ago today, it was reported that New Zealand’s coal use had plummeted to a 32-year low. After a brief spike in 2021, coal use declined to the lowest level in more than three decades. This was driven by a reduction in the amount of coal burned for industry, coal transformed during steel production, and in the amount of coal burned for power generation.

The Government’s arguments for expanding coal production simply don’t hold water.

Dr Kingdon-Bebb says the move is at odds with the Government’s commitment to meet net zero by 2050 and the climate targets recently announced by the Prime Minister.

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“This absurd, selfish decision flies in the face of the Government’s own commitment that New Zealand will meet its international climate targets. It’s time for Christopher Luxon to stand up to his coalition partners - or at the very least, to show some accountability to New Zealanders by fronting up to explain this damaging and short-sighted policy."

Dr Kingdon-Bebb says that in light of today’s move, the Government also needs to come forward with a clear, defensible plan for how it will drive forward emissions reductions and meet the country’s climate change targets.

“It doesn’t require a degree in climate science to see that the Government’s maths don’t add up. Time and time again the Prime Minister has said that he is committed to meeting our international climate change targets - yet his Government offers no credible pathway to do so and, instead, is ramming through a host of backward-thinking policies that will only increase emissions and drive further loss of our threatened species and ecosystems.

“Facilitating the development of new coal mines in New Zealand doesn’t even make economic sense. No responsible investor will underwrite the development of new fossil fuels - let alone coal mines. Our country’s major financial institutions will no longer invest in coal. New Zealand is looking increasingly out of step with the rest of the world,” she says.

“Thousands of young Kiwis recently marched in the streets to demand stronger climate action from this Government. This shameless decision is ignoring the legitimate concerns of our rangatahi and robbing future generations of a habitable planet.”

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