Author: tjonescan

A hospital that makes people sick?

by Jeanette Fitzsimons The long-running question of whether the new Christchurch hospital will run on coal or wood waste is still not resolved, but seems to be heading back to coal. See my blog A tale of two hospitals from March 2016. Every new coal installation is a blow against the climate and it is particularly ironic that a government agency charged with keeping people well seems to be about to install a boiler that will increase respiratory and other illness. This is a decision not of the Canterbury District Health Board, but of the Ministry of Health, so on September 9 CANA wrote to the Director General of Health, Mr Chai Chuah, and to Dr Stewart Jessamine, acting director of public health, pointing out that this is a not just an engineering decision, but a question of public health policy which runs contrary to international agreements they have signed to put health first in all decisions, and which could damage people’s trust in our health authorities. More than six weeks later we have had no reply or acknowledgement. Today we are bringing the matter to the attention of other ministry staff and making our letter public. Staff arriving at work at the Wellington offices will be given a flier that directs them to our letter that is posted below. It sets out the evidence and our reasoning to...

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Coal Prices – do they prove us wrong?

by Jeanette Fitzsimons Industry is exulting over a stellar rise in the coal price this year. But we won’t be investing our savings. The 5 year steady drop in the price of coking coal since 2011 has slowed work at Stockton, prevented the development of Bathurst’s Denniston mine until last year, then after a brief flurry of activity to ensure the consent remained valid, put that mine on hold indefinitely. Now in a few months coking coal that was selling at $72/tonne in January is selling at US$213. Australian thermal coal has risen by 85% – though is still short of 2011 levels. Whitehaven Coal’s share price has risen by 600% but investors would be wise to be cautious. Zhao Chenxin of China’s National Development and Reform Commission has said “the current soaring price has no market foundation and is not sustainable”. Bathurst seems to have similar concerns. They have not reopened Denniston and their share price remains below 6 cents. Perhaps they want to downplay the rise until they have purchased Solid Energy’s Stockton mine? Why did the coal price drop over 5 years, why has it risen sharply again this year, and why do we think this will not last? Why the price slump? The steady decline in coal prices was about China’s reducing demand for coal and steel, and their declining rate of economic growth. It...

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Hey Fonterra: Coal Must Go but Gas Ain’t Green

by Rosemary Penwarden The tobacco industry got nervous when people began to question the health impacts of cigarettes in the 1950s. In response, their marketers invented the filter-tipped cigarette, to screen out tar and nicotine and make the cigarette “safer”. The filters did not stop cancer; people just dragged harder or smoked more to get their nicotine fix, and filter-tipped cigarettes have dominated the market ever since. Today’s fossil fuel industry is like the nervous tobacco industry of the 1950s. They know the burning of coal, oil and gas is speedily nudging our global thermometer to two degrees. Like their tobacco industry pals they have lied, cheated and even paid the same marketers to confuse us into ignoring the warning signs, continue with our fossil fuel addiction and allow them to make more profits. And Fonterra has it bad. As the second largest user of coal in the country, Fonterra’s addiction keeps New Zealand’s fossil fuel industry thriving. The fossil fuel spin doctors are marketing gas as the ‘clean’ alternative to dirty coal. Gas is the bridge to a renewable future. Gas provides ‘diversity’ in our forward-looking energy arsenal, according to Energy Minister Simon Bridges. Gas: the filter-tipped cigarette of fossil fuel industry. Most of Fonterra’s North Island milk drying plants are gas-fired, and their new plant at Pahiatua and recent expansion at Lichfield will use more. While the...

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ECO Conference shows unions and environmental groups are natural allies

Coal Action Network Aotearoa was well represented at the recent ECO (Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand) Conference in Auckland – which saw environmentalists and the union movement further cementing a relationship which has grown increasingly close in recent years. Climate Justice Aotearoa has produced an excellent report of the conference on their website, which we have lightly adapted here: This year’s ECO conference saw what Jeanette Fitzsimons of CANA described as a coming together of “natural allies”  with environmentalists and unions exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with realising a just transition for workers and communities here...

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The Government Is Trying To Classify Protests At Sea As Terrorism – Submit By Friday

There have been many famous seaborne protests in New Zealand’s history. Some of them – like the Moruroa ship visits – were even organised by the Government of the day. But the current National Government is trying to classify ship-borne protests as terrorism, and we only have until this Friday to say “No!” Why should a group campaigning against new and expanded coal mines care about that? Although protests against nuclear ship visits might come to mind first when we think of seaborne protests – and indeed, the Government appears to be rushing this Bill through in advance of a planned US warship visit – New Zealnd has also seen seaborne protests against oil exploration and coal shipments in recent years. What with the Government’s plans to expand deep sea oil drilling, its desire to increase coal exports, and the persistent blind eye it turns to illegal fishing, there is plenty of scope for seaborne protests. So what’s the Government planning to do? Here’s the callout from our friends at Peace Action Wellington, including the worst features of the Bill and what changes we should ask for. We encourage everyone who wants to preserve the right to effective protest action against fossil fuels – and nuclear ship visits – to submit against this unwise and repressive Bill. Submit here: If at all possible, please say that you want to speak to...

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