Govt's fossil fuels energy strategy shows economic incompetence

Wednesday 31 August 2011, 9:24AM
By Greenpeace New Zealand


The Government’s Energy Strategy released this morning is an act of gross economic incompetence, committed by an cabinet that is refusing to give up its obsession with fossil fuels, says Greenpeace NZ.
“The strategy turns its back on New Zealand’s clean technologies sector in favour of subsidising international oil, and thereby denying ourselves the chance of entering into the global cleantech revolution,” says Simon Boxer, Greenpeace NZ’s Senior Climate Campaigner.

The strategy does not mention the six billion tonnes of lignite in Southland that the SOE Solid Energy has bought the rights to. Almost more carbon is contained within those reserves than is emitted by the United States every two years.

“The Government is being extremely dishonest by not including lignite in this document, despite the prime minister’s public support for Solid Energy’s plans,” says Boxer.

The mentions in the strategy of mostly hydro-based renewable energy supplies, which come off the back of heavy investment in this area in the last half of the last century, hide the fact that the strategy has fossil fuels investment at its core.

“PricewaterhouseCoopers produced a report in 2009 that made it clear that New Zealand stood to gain $20 billion from its cleantech sector. But this opportunity is about to be lost forever, thanks to this Government’s myopia,” Boxer says.

“China is going to spend $12.7 billion on geothermal projects alone over the next five years. New Zealand is a world leader in geothermal technologies, and yet the Government is doing nothing to secure overseas contracts in this field.

“Instead of capitalising on New Zealander’s famous ability to come up with creative engineering solutions to complex problems, the Government is spending millions on trying to attract the deep water oil industry here.

“The Energy Strategy will saddle New Zealanders with a massive carbon liability, and the risk of a deep water oil disaster – for the sake of foreign oil companies’ profit margins. Deep water oil exploration is a threat to our clean green reputation, because of the impossibility of quickly cleaning up a deep water spill.

“Any oil delivered by an offshore rig off the coast of New Zealand will only go onto the international market – it won’t do anything to make oil cheaper here. That, combined with the Transport Minister’s road focussed strategy, is only going to worsen the effects of our economy’s addiction to fossil fuels,” Boxer says.

The creation of the fossil fuels industry’s final frontiers will dramatically increase our climate emissions, at the same time as the Arctic heads towards a historic minimum.

"At this rate, John Key's legacy will be one of having missed the economic opportunities of the cleantech revolution sweeping the world, whilst parking New Zealand in a fossil fuels-economic backwater," Boxer says.