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%).
In his interview on TV3’s The Nation last weekend David Shearer declared a Labour Party policy on oil and gas drilling which, like the Government’s, fails to confront the reality of climate change. Drilling will continue. The approval processes will be improved, the regulations will be tight, the money gained will be used well, but drilling will continue. He acknowledged that “at the end of the day” fossil fuels are out. They cannot continue to be our future. But we can use them to transition to renewables. They can remain a strand in our development. ”There’s a potential there and while there’s a potential we should be looking at it.”
Transition is a word which acquires a convenient elasticity in the language of those who argue for the continued exploration for fossil fuels. We all realise that the change from fossil energy can’t happen overnight. There has to be a period of transition. But to use that fact to justify continued new exploration and development of fossil fuels is to rob the transition of all urgency and treat it rather as something we will need to gradually prepare for as fossil reserves are finally exhausted.
My post at The Daily Blog this week ignores all the political kerfuffle surrounding milk-stained cabinet ministers taking holidays from twitter, and focusses on a new report from non-partisan young climate activist group Generation Zero: A Challenge To Our Leaders – Why New Zealand needs a Clean Energy Plan. It’s an impressive piece of work, and an admirable summary of where we are today and where New Zealand should be heading. I commend it to all Hot Topic readers – the pdf is here.
In my post at The Daily Blog today — Facing the future – no Bridges too far — I take a look at the Royal Society of New Zealand’s latest information paper about the need to move New Zealand to a green economy. There’s a yawning gulf between the rational world view embodied in the RSNZ’s paper and the policy settings adopted by the current government. Which comes as no surprise…
Below the fold I’ve embedded the infographic designed by the RSNZ to accompany its paper. It’s well worth taking a look…
And so. Another set of climate talks done, this year dusted with Doha sand and labeled the “Doha Gateway”. I’m not sure what they’re a gateway to, certainly no immediate improvement to the climate. The final hours were bizarre, to say the least. We began the day on Saturday with a text much improved from the day before, but with some major issues outstanding. Ministers wrangled behind closed doors for most of the day, changing bits of text here and there.
We were preparing for Russia who, with Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Ukraine, were set to continue the talks way into Saturday night. They were holding out in the informals, furious about the discussions on hot air.
The “Russian factor” is one those of us who’ve been involved for a few years are all too familiar with. Just when you think there’s general agreement, in come the Russians who manage to drag the talks on for hours.
“Hot air” has been major problem with the Kyoto Protocol for years. Somehow, the Russians managed to get the Kyoto negotiators to agree to a baseline of 1990, before the collapse of the former Soviet Union, which meant millions of tonnes of carbon credits ended up in the hands of Eastern European countries, bringing them a handy income, and other countries an easy and cheap option to do nothing at home and buy cheap hot air. Russia has 6Gt of hot air – that’s how much it’s been cheating the atmosphere.
In Durban and Doha, New Zealand has sided with this team against the wish of the rest of the world to make sure that this “hot air” didn’t get carried over into Kyoto’s second commitment period (CP2).