I hope these comments will help you make your own submissions, the deadline for which is September 20

– Jeanette Fitzsimons

The Minerals and Petroleum Resource Strategy document is about our overall approach to mining of both fossil fuels and other minerals. It is crucial to get this right as it will govern coal mines and oil and gas, and therefore climate change, and whether or not, and how, we phase out fossil fuels, for the next ten years. It is absolutely what we are about and your critique is essential.

Our Declaration says

Reduce the extraction and burning of fossil fuels to 50% by 2025 and to zero by 2030:

(i) prevent all new and expanded coal mines and coal burning plants;

(ii) end deep sea oil exploration and fracking for oil and gas.

The draft Strategy instead proposes reducing them somewhat, but envisages continued mining and burning of fossil fuels for many decades, with no suggested end point. This is ecocide, and we must call it that.

The draft Strategy is at Responsibly Delivering Value: A Minerals and Petroleum Resource Strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand: 2019-2029.

You can contribute in two ways:

1. Read the Strategy and write your thoughts and send to the address given for submissions.

2. MBIE prefer that you go to their website and click on “Complete our submission form”.

The second seems very limiting – the questions are all multiple choice from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” – but you can choose to ignore some of them and there are lots of spaces for you to give reasons and disagree, etc.

I’ve decided to do it this way and make their form, which they will take notice of, work for my ideas.

The main points, as I see it, are:

  1. There is no distinction made between fossil fuels, which must go to zero as fast as possible because they are driving climate change, and other minerals which should be assessed on their environmental impact. There is no distinction made between aggregates, rock used for roading and concrete which are abundant and can be mined with very low impact, and minerals like gold which cause major environmental disruption. Metals essential for the transition to a zero carbon economy (eg lithium, cobalt) should be given priority over those which are merely “nice to have” (eg gold – there is enough gold already above ground for essential industrial uses.)
  2. The draft Strategy is not consistent with the Government’s policy on climate change, which is to achieve zero carbon by 2050 under the Paris Accord. Everything in the Strategy must fit within the framework of the climate emergency, and the need to change the ways we do things. BAU is not an option anymore. Reference this to recent science if you can.
  3. It is not good enough to say (Principle 1) that ecosystems and biodiversity must be “respected”. So we say a little prayer and carry on as in the past? We should insist on the word “protected”.
  4. Principle 10 (continuing production and exploration under current permits) puts the property rights of miners ahead of the transition to zero carbon. It means renewal and expansion of existing oil drilling licences even when there is a ban on new oil drilling. We should not accept any form of Principle 10 for fossil fuels, and for other resources it should be dependent on environmental impact.
  5. Gas is NOT a sustainable bridge to a low carbon (let alone zero carbon) economy. It’s carbon dioxide emissions are more like 60% of coal rather than the 50% often quoted by industry, and we have to add to that significant methane releases from all parts of the production and use cycle. They know this! Particularly, any new gas wells or infrastructure will be used for decades and take us backwards from the zero carbon future. It should be phased out in the same way as coal and oil.
  6. The Strategy should set a timeframe for the phase out of fossil fuels, starting with no new coal mines or oil and gas wells, and protecting essential uses of these fuels (eg steel making) for as long as possible, while closing down uses for which there are good substitutes, like electricity generation, promptly.
  7. There is lip service paid to a circular economy, which is good, but no steps to take to start the difficult journey to get there. This needs a strategy on its own.
  8. The diagrams beginning on page 17 are very useful for people who have not previously engaged with the process; but the section on mining techniques doesn’t even mention fracking! This is the most destructive of techniques and needs to stop as part of the phase out. It is only used for oil and gas.
  9. The Strategy proposes “balancing impacts across all 4 capitals”. This is not OK! Climate and environmental protection must take precedence over revenue to the Crown, for example.

Thank you for reading this. I hope these comments will help you make your own submissions, the deadline for which is September 20

– Jeanette Fitzsimons