Fonterra needs to get cracking on quitting coal!

New Zealand’s second-largest coal user, Fonterra, and the rest of the dairy industry, will have to shift up a gear in getting out of coal to meet the recommendations by the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Coal Action Network Aotearoa said today,  warning the 2037 date for getting off coal for process heat isn’t ambitious enough.

“The Commissions’s advice that we need to get out of coal in food processing by 2037 will put a rocket under Fonterra, whose weak policy is only to reduce its coal use by 30% by 2030,” said Cindy Baxter of Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

“However, we consider that the 2037 end date for coal in process heat for things like drying milk should be brought forward. The world needs to get out of coal, and for Fonterra to be able to continue burning coal until 2037 is unacceptable.

“We also call on the Government to take up the Commission’s advice that no new coal boilers should be constructed, anywhere, from now on.”

Disappointingly, the Commission doesn’t include a ban on coal mining overall.

“CANA calls for the government to close all coal mines by 2027, and ban new ones – not just on conservation land – and stop the expansion of old mines such as the proposed Bathurst expansion of the Canterbury Coal mine at Coalgate.”

“There would be jobs lost in coal mining, but the Commission points out there is time for the Government to come up with a Just Transition plan, and has set out many ideas that will increase employment, such as the increased use of biomass,” said Baxter.

CANA also welcomed the suggested closure of Huntly coal-fired power station in the 2020’s.
“It’s high time we shut Huntly:  it was scheduled to close in 2018, but so-called “100% renewable” Meridian persuaded Genesis to keep it open to provide backup for dry years, as part of its Tiwai Point deal.”

One main piece of information that CANA was expecting in today’s report was advice for the Government on New Zealand’s current 2030 target (reducing emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030). The CCC only says it should be “much more” than 35%. “This is disappointing.”

CANA is disappointed that the Commission did not model the cost of inaction, and the impact on GDP of climate change.

“Climate change is already hitting Aotearoa, hard. Almost every week we’re seeing record rain, floods, hailstorms, high temperatures and wildfires. Just ask the cherry growers in Central Otago, the fruit growers in Nelson, or the people hit by floods in Napier – or the people at Lake Ohau who’ve lost their homes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: there are other threats such as the effects on health, disease and pests as our climate becomes more tropical.

“It’s a real shame the Commission’s models didn’t include the expected costs of climate impacts of the three degrees of global warming where we are currently headed for by 2100.  This is the real danger, and it would make a marked difference to their projected increase in GDP under business as usual.”

CANA commends the Climate Change Commission for this substantial and commonsense advice to Government, and looks forward to being part of the conversation going forward.

Cindy Baxter 021 772 661