The Government’s latest efforts to tackle emissions from coal are not the kind of bold action required to get New Zealand onto a net zero emissions pathway, and disappointingly leaves the door open for gas, says Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

While the group welcomed today’s announcement of a ban on new coal boilers from the end of this year, allowing bigger users to carry on using coal as process heat for another 16 years (to 2037) is way too late.

“The second round of grants announced to reduce coal use, while welcome, would save around 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but Fonterra pumps out half a million tonnes every year to make its coal-fired milk powder exports,” said Cindy Baxter a CANA spokesperson.

CANA is particularly concerned about language in the Government’s announcement that still leaves the door wide open to gas, where it says “An option proposed is to also prohibit other new fossil fuel boilers where suitable alternative technology exists and it is economically viable.”

“Fonterra has already stated in its submission to the Climate Change Commission that it wants to maintain its use of gas while it phases out coal, but gas is also a problem: from production to burning, gas leaks, and if you count those fugitive emissions, there’s little difference from coal.”

CANA calls on the government to impose an immediate ban on new coal-fired boilers, rather than waiting until the end of the year, and to bring forward the date of coal phase-out to 2027.

CORRECTION: This press release has been amended. 

Fonterra got in touch with us to say that it will not be building any new gas boilers:  its submission to the Climate Change Commission stressed that it wanted to keep using the gas that it already burns while it makes the switch from coal.