About us:

We are a Canterbury group working for a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Letter to the Oil Free Seas Flotilla

23 November 2013

Dear Jeanette and Bunny

The Canterbury Coal Action and 350.org Christchurch group are grateful to you and your crew for being out there at sea on our behalf and for many other New Zealanders who oppose deep sea oil drilling.  

Many of us will be on the beaches this weekend in support of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla and your small yacht, the Vega – which we see on our screens like David against Goliath, against the giant ‘ignoble’ Bob Douglas. We hope you get to hear about the crowds that turn out in support.

Please know that because people like you are prepared to stand up for what is right, so that future generations and other life-forms on our wonderful planet can thrive, we are all inspired and encouraged to go further and be bolder in our own ways.   Thank you.

Best regards,

Rachel Eyre

On behalf of 350.org Christchurch and Canterbury Coal Action


Letter to the Oil Free Seas Flotilla

23 November 2013

Dear Jeanette and Bunny

The Canterbury Coal Action and 350.org Christchurch group are grateful to you and your crew for being out there at sea on our behalf and for many other New Zealanders who oppose deep sea oil drilling.  

Many of us will be on the beaches this weekend in support of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla and your small yacht, the Vega – which we see on our screens like David against Goliath, against the giant ‘ignoble’ Bob Douglas. We hope you get to hear about the crowds that turn out in support.

Please know that because people like you are prepared to stand up for what is right, so that future generations and other life-forms on our wonderful planet can thrive, we are all inspired and encouraged to go further and be bolder in our own ways.   Thank you.

Best regards,

Rachel Eyre

On behalf of 350.org Christchurch and Canterbury Coal Action


Letter to the Oil Free Seas Flotilla

23 November 2013

Dear Jeanette and Bunny

The Canterbury Coal Action and 350.org Christchurch group are grateful to you and your crew for being out there at sea on our behalf and for many other New Zealanders who oppose deep sea oil drilling.  

Many of us will be on the beaches this weekend in support of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla and your small yacht, the Vega – which we see on our screens like David against Goliath, against the giant ‘ignoble’ Bob Douglas. We hope you get to hear about the crowds that turn out in support.

Please know that because people like you are prepared to stand up for what is right, so that future generations and other life-forms on our wonderful planet can thrive, we are all inspired and encouraged to go further and be bolder in our own ways.   Thank you.

Best regards,

Rachel Eyre

On behalf of 350.org Christchurch and Canterbury Coal Action


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

350

Bill McKibben, US climate change campaigner and founder of 350.org www.350.org.nz visited New Zealand in early June. Bill brought his “do the Maths” message to Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington and was live-streamed to numerous other centres from Invercargill to Tauranga.
The Maths boils down to a few numbers.
* The world can emit only 565 more gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and stay below 2 degrees C of warming - any more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth, he says.
* But the only problem is that burning the fossil fuel that corporations now have in their reserves would result in emitting 2795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide - five times the safe amount.
This means that 80% of fossil fuels must remain in the ground to avoid the worst effects of climate change and represent a “carbon bubble” that could plunge the world into another financial crisis if it bursts.
Divestment from fossil fuels is a campaign, led by 350.org, which has been very successful in the US.  In Aotearoa 350, CANA, Generation Zero, WWF and others are now giving their attention to how divestment can work in our local context.  CANA is keen to find ways to encourage people to divest from coal and to put pressure on our major institutions to do likewise.

A recent report from WWF shows how heavily our New Zealand government subsidises the fossil fuel industry through indirect financial support such as tax breaks (http://awsassets.wwfnz.panda.org/downloads/wwf_fossil_fuel_finance_nz_subsidies_report.pdf) . A further report is due from WWF shortly which will provide more detail about the extent to which ACC and Superannuation funds are invested in fossil fuels.   CANA is doing research of its own into the major investors in coal, particularly Bathurst. Whilst we await the research, many local groups are getting on and developing their own ideas for local action.

In Christchurch, at a recent meeting of the local ‘fossil fuel resistance movement’ (including representatives from CANA, Canterbury Coal Action, Oil-free Otautahi, Forest and Bird, ECO, Christchurch Youth Council, Ministry of Awesome, etc.)  plans were discussed on how to get more people to understand the seriousness and urgency of climate change and why it is so important to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  

Amongst the many ideas explored, was the suggestion of setting up a writing group for sharing templates to write fossil fuel divestment letters to Banks, Pension funds, Schools and Churches. Another idea was getting institutions to declare themselves ‘Fossil Fuel Free’; starting with schools, universities, and community boards. There were some fun ideas about how to expose the scandal that $46 million is being paid by our government as a subsidy to the fossil fuel industry.  The Christchurch rebuild also offers some interesting creative possibilities for protest action on vacant lots. Watch this space!
For 350.org’s latest information on their divestment campaign throughout New Zealand see http://gofossilfree.org/nz/
For CANA’s action on transitioning to a coal free Aotearoa see  http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/

Rachel Eyre
Canterbury Coal Action

Coal Action Network Aotearoa

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hands Across the Sand

Canterbury Coal Action was proud to be part of Hands Across the Sand Christchurch, as we stand with like minded organisations and individuals in opposition to deep-sea oil drilling:


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cindy Baxter's Piece

Getting used to the ‘new normal’
As I flew up the country from Wellington to Auckland this week, on yet another beautiful day, I was struck by the colour of our country.
Brown. Burned to a crisp.  The occasional smattering of green forest, but an island suffering from its worst drought in 70 years, as I’d heard climate scientist Jim Salinger saying on the radio that morning.
Next I’m listening to Bill English saying farmers can’t expect get the same level of support in future droughts, if they continue to happen with more frequency, asNIWA tells us they will.  Meanwhile John Key is in Brazil pleading with oil giant Petrobras to come back, and an industry-written report tells us we should drill all over the East Coast. 
It’s obviously bad. The Sunday Star Times tells us that “experts warn it could spell the end for farming as we know it and may cost the country billions of dollars in drought relief each year before practices are adjusted.”
It’s taken quite some time for the words “climate change” to enter the national conversation about this drought.  I spoke with NIWA’s Brett Mullan last week and he had some very interesting points to make on the massive and very unusual highs that have been sitting over the country since early February.    He’d make a great interview, I thought, but he said no media had called him to even ask.
Climatologist Dr James Renwick wrote an excellent article in The Press, but it’s well away from those in the major drought area.  
Our agriculture-based economy is going to feel this pinch more than most in the decades to come.  Indeed the Government is already signalling it may cause a return to recession. What worries me is that our agriculture is increasingly turning to intensive, water-hungry dairy farming, at a time when water scarcity is expected to rise.  
In 1981 there were 2.92 million dairy cows wandering our land.  By 2010 this had grown to nearly six million.  
In the last few weeks we’ve seen farmer after dairy farmer on the news, having to dry off their herd early, buy in feed and sell cows off to the works as they can’t sustain them.
There are so many ironies in this story that it’s difficult to know where to start.
Federated Farmers and Fonterra fought tooth and nail to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme.  You know, that thing that was supposed to be New Zealand’s response to climate change.  Except it doesn’t, as our ETS is so weak it’s pretty much dead in the water
The ETS would, apparently, have been too costly for farmers.  Because after all they have to deal with expensive things like – erm – dealing with drought.  Of which there will be more, caused by – erm – climate change.   
Some of the extra feed they’re buying is palm kernel, palm kernel that comes from Indonesian plantations on land that used to house peatlands and old growth forest, activities that add a massive chunk of carbon to our atmosphere.
So we don’t act on climate change, and we are now only OECD country to have no specific 2020 target to cut emissions.  And our government is at the forefront of efforts to undermine progress at international climate talks. We’ve turned our backs on Kyoto, and we’re showing no signs of treating the need for a global climate agreement with the urgency the science is telling us it deserves, instead treating it like a set of trade talks. 
This is our worst drought in 70 years, but 2007/8 was almost as bad.  Taking action to curb emissions, the government has argued, would cost the country, but did they factor in the cost of this drought, at $1 billion and ballooning, and the last drought that cost $2.8 billion
Meanwhile our dairy giant, Fonterra, wants to open a coal mine to operate its milk powder factories.   Coal, that stuff that causes climate change. 
But we’re not allowed to argue climate change when coal extraction is being considered.  Heaven forbid.            Let’s hope the Supreme Court will listen to the West Coast Environment Network’s arguments this week as they battle Bathurst and Solid Energy in their bid to get the law changed.
Of course I have sympathy for farmers at this terrible time. And of course I don’t blame all farmers for the state of the Government’s climate policy. 
We’re all in this climate change business together.  From my own fast-emptying water tanks to the farmers (and associated industries) suffering across the country, we need to turn to a new way of thinking, a new way of operating in this climate-changing world.   
If I were a farmer I’d be screaming at the government to take leadership on all counts.  Maps like this aren’t pretty.
Our Government, for the sake of our farmers and all of our futures, needs to wake up, dump its short-term, fossil fuel-based thinking that holds up international action, and, indeed our economy.
Instead of his myopic focus on coal mining, fracking, mining, offshore oil drilling – and indeed, carbon-intensive dairying, instead of kowtowing to the likes of Petrobras,  John Key could be leading our country towards real prosperity. 
As a recent Greenpeace report has pointed out, we could be embracing a smart, clean, 21st century economy based on 100% renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport. 
All we need is some leadership.
Otherwise we will have to get used to this “new normal”.  

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Opinion Piece in the Southland Times


OPINION PIECE IN THE SOUTHLAND TIMES: So, Solid Energy has had to announce one more job loss to complete the series of hundreds of job losses from late last year.
This time the axe has fallen on chief executive Don Elder, who has been encouraged to resign rather than wait to be fired. Given the sad state of business at Solid Energy, Mr Elder's departure is not at all unexpected.
What is the future for Solid Energy, and what responsibilities are now faced by the recently-appointed board and their yet-to-be-appointed chief executive?
Priorities
The first need in the current situation is to get out of the media spotlight. There have been too many press articles about Solid Energy and its woes in recent months. Some quiet time and some space to think would be helpful.
To stay out of the papers, the best advice would be to avoid doing anything controversial.
So, for example, don't appoint a flashy new chief executive on a pumped-up salary. Don't sack any more staff. Don't forge ahead with those dubious projects that are on the books. Hold steady while you get your balance.
A second priority is to get some cash back into the business. Currently Solid Energy is losing money at an alarming rate and no board (or shareholding Minister) will put up with that for very long. We can see that coal prices are currently low (and likely to stay that way) so selling more coal isn't the answer. I suggest following the Government's advice and selling off some assets. But what to sell?
Under the leadership of Mr Elder, Solid Energy has invested heavily in a project to exploit the lignite resources of Eastern Southland. The project hasn't got very far because the potential partners have all pulled out, there's no market for the briquette product, the lignite is as low a grade of coal as can be imagined and there is little support for the scheme from the locals.
But Solid Energy has invested heavily in farmland (for proposed large scale mines) and currently finds itself with substantial agribusiness interests..
Solid Energy should take the opportunity to sell them to release the cash. Get out of farming, get its finances looking better and make a lot of friends in Southland at the same time.
Getting some help
Those priorities are quite straightforward.
The next one might involve something of a culture shift at Solid Energy. If coal is not profitable on the world market, then the Government can't be expected to prop up a state owned miner forever. Solid Energy will need to come up with a plan for a future of energy beyond coal.
Most organisations love to play at planning. It usually just confirms the status quo. But the status quo won't work for Solid Energy. Solid Energy needs to take a long, hard look at its purpose and direction, and that look needs to be informed by an appreciation of the real world, and the reasonably foreseeable future, not by the over-optimistic blandishments so popular with consultants.
How will the new chief executive at Solid Energy get the advice he or she needs to come up with a plan? I doubt that it will come from in-house.
I doubt that it will come from mining industry consultants - they'll just suggest more-of-the-same.
For Solid Energy to genuinely move into the 21st century it needs advice and guidance from its opponents. That's not the competing coal miners and sellers around the world; it's the academics, pressure groups and campaigners who work to set a new path for businesses like Solid Energy. Some of the most creative and well-informed people on the question of energy are likely to be speaking against Solid Energy at consent hearings.
These are the people who understand that carbon capture and storage is nothing more than a fairy story and should be treated as such, that customers actually want to move away from coal and that Solid Energy is failing to meet their needs.
These are the people who understand about energy return on energy invested and know that biofuels might make some short-term economic sense but, in every other way, are a backward step.
These are the people who look at the low grade lignite of Southland and recognise it for the rubbish that it is, and look at the towns on the West Coast blighted by coal mining and see the profits leaving town while the misery remains.
These are the people who understand about climate change and accept the responsibility to take action, locally and globally, to reduce emissions, and who understand that ordinary people are working toward low-carbon futures and deserve to be supported by industry.
These are the friends Solid Energy needs.
Where to from here?
Some good things have happened recently at Solid Energy, and I hope for more good news soon. I look forward to a month without an article on Solid Energy in the newspapers.
I look forward to a quiet announcement of a modest CEO on a modest salary, an annual meeting attended by members of the public who have a genuine interest in the industry's future, and the threat of the lignite projects being lifted from the communities of Southland and the land sold to genuine farmers for the benefit of future generations.
I look forward to Solid Energy getting back into the black, and to a healthy, well-informed debate about the future of coal mining and energy in this country.
I wish the new chief executive well in his or her position.
John Adams is a former geologist and ex-Southlander who acts as a spokesman for Canterbury Coal Action, which works for a just transition to a coal-free New Zealand.