Press release: Coal Action Network Aotearoa
Tuesday 29th August 2011

Coal Action Network Aotearoa says that changes to the New Zealand Energy Strategy, released today, show that the Government is running scared of growing public opposition to its plans to mine massive quantities of lignite in Southland.

“In April, we obtained a copy of the latest version of the Government’s New Zealand Energy Strategy and released it to the media,” said Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Frances Mountier.(1) “That version talked about making urea and liquid fuels from coal, which is what Government-owned Solid Energy wants to do with the billions of tonnes of low-quality brown coal, called lignite, that lies beneath prime Southland farmland. That is a massively polluting process. It would be terrible for greenhouse gas emissions, and terrible for the local environment.”

“Since April,” Frances Mountier continued, “there has been a groundswell of public and political opinion against these lignite mining plans. Only last week, National list MP Michael Woodhouse announced his public opposition to lignite mining at a pre-election meeting in Dunedin.”(2)

“Now the Government has finally got around to releasing its New Zealand Energy Strategy, it has dropped the references to making urea and liquid fuels from coal. That tells us that the Government is feeling the pressure from public opposition to lignite mining,” said Frances Mountier.

“We’re pleased they have made this change,” continued Ms Mountier, “but the strategy as a whole demonstrates the Government’s determination to leap boldly back to the 1950s. After a few weasel words about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Strategy gets down to its real business, which is promoting the exploitation of fossil fuels in every which way the Government thinks it can get away with. At the very time when the Government’s energy focus should be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has chosen to treat the climate and the planet with contempt.”

“Well, we’re here to tell them they won’t get away with it. They are already having to soft-pedal their lignite mining plans. Until the Government abandons its outdated approach to energy strategy that completely ignores the risks of catastrophic climate change, they are going to feel the heat of public opposition up and down the country,” Frances Mountier concluded.


Frances Mountier, Coal Action Network Aotearoa Spokesperson
021 175 7484

(1) This draft version is available on the Coal Action Network Aotearoa website at

(2) See

Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CAN Aotearoa) is a group of climate justice campaigners committed to fighting the continuation of coal mining in Aotearoa New Zealand.

CAN Aotearoa’s objectives are to:
1. Phase out coal mining and coal usage within 20 years, initially by opposing new and expanded coal mines.
2. Promote a cultural change so that mining and using coal are unacceptable.
3. Work towards a society where people and the environment are not exploited for profit.
4. Be part of a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

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