Why would Fonterra spend several million dollars on a process lasting nearly a year, seeking planning consent for a huge new milk drier that it knows will never be built? Perhaps that’s not a lot of money to them – after all, one million is only three months’ salary for their CEO.
Fonterra’s proposed Studholme project, just outside of Waimate in South Canterbury, would see two new spray driers powered by two immense coal boilers – one 65MW, the other 50.
This is the biggest new coal burning project in the country, with the hearing happening just as our Minister for Climate Change is about to travel to New York to sign the Paris agreement where we undertook to reduce our greenhouse emissions a totally inadequate 11% below 1990 levels. (It’s even more inadequate when creative accounting turns this into more like +10%).
Last week was a bad week for coal mines on the West Coast.
Early in the week Solid Energy announced 24 workers would lose their jobs from the Stockton mine, and by the end of the week Bathurst announced that it is putting the Denniston mine on hold, laying off 12 workers – terrible news for those workers and their families.
At the heart of this is the same issue that sent Solid Energy under: plummeting coking coal prices – a price that has continued to fall, and was again cited as the reason for Solid’s new layoffs.
Over on the Denniston Plateau, Bathurst’s woes have stemmed, in the first instance, from the long-signalled closure of the Holcim plant in Westport, its biggest client. Bathurst has had to seek domestic buyers for its high grade coking coal, because of the low international price.
What can I add to the millions of words in dozens of languages that have already been written by the thousands of journalists and commentators around the Paris Agreement? We now have a globally binding agreement that really looks like it could curtail the use of a fuel that has been central to our way of life for more than 150 years.
Of course, if we’d managed to actually make deep cuts in emissions 25 years ago, getting governments to limit warming to 1.5 degrees would have been an awful prospect – who would want that much warming. When I started working on this, it might have been possible to have no warming at all.
And if industrialised countries had actually made deep cuts in emissions when they said they would, would we even be having an argument about equity? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but let’s look forward here. What’s in this agreement?
One of the most beautiful things I saw on my facebook feed last week were some angels at Republique, the scene of the attacks last month. Those same angels appeared at the entrance to the UN zone at the climate talks out at Le Bourget the other day as we walked into the centre. Today it was the Greenpeace polar bear, Aurora, roaring at everyone. But whatever is set up to amuse us on the way in, there’s no getting around it: we’re heading to the pointy end of the Paris agreement, and it’s no longer really about pictures. It’s all about words. The text.
I’ve been here a few times now: these last 48 hours at a climate talks where nobody gets any sleep, and everybody’s obsessed with the regular new rounds of the draft agreement.
We’ve been waiting all day: governments battled over words all night last night, and the French Environment Minister Fabius’s team started drafting a new version of the draft agreement early this morning.
I’ve been in Paris for over a week now, and the speed at which everything goes past, including time, is frightening. I think the 40,000 expected have now all arrived. I’m getting worried the only Eiffel Tower I’ll see is the one made of red folding chairs at the end of the “Champs Elysee” at the meeting.
We began last week with the Heads of State arriving and making grand statements about grandchildren, climate impacts, the importance of the issue, etc..
Arnold Schwarzenegger was here today, Richard Branson was here yesterday. We’ve had Leo Dicaprio, Sean Penn, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle: a veritable feast of celebrity and wisdom. Ben & Jerry’s are giving out free ice cream.
There’s been major announcements on progress from climate finance, to cities taking action, and absolutely everything and anything to do with climate change and workers, and indigenous peoples, and everything else under the sun. There’s a lot of noise, everyone trying to get their message heard. My quote of the day today was a journalist saying “my inbox is my enemy.”