by Gareth Hughes
The Ministry of Economic Development have released their Energy Outlook for New Zealand and it should be a wake-up call for the Government.
The report projects New Zealand’s future energy supply, demand, prices and greenhouse gas emissions but the major challenges identified in it are at odds with the Governments ‘drill it, mine’ fossil-fuel-focused Energy Strategy.
The report acknowledges oil prices will be up, greenhouse gas emissions from energy will be up a staggering 40-50% on 1990 levels by 2030 and transport will continue to be oil dependant. This is a huge economic and environmental threat. It beggars belief that the Government continues to borrow billions to pour on uneconomic motorways when the report itself says ‘Historical travel data indicates that personal road travel is already near saturation, with little additional per capita travel likely.’ This scare money could be better spent preparing us for oil and carbon constrained world.
New Zealand’s dependence on imported oil is a huge strategic worry and should be the subject of an urgent inquiry. However unlike many governments, militaries and businesses that are planning to reduce their dependence on oil our Government won’t even plan to start planning. We have so many options in New Zealand from energy efficiency, 90%+ renewable electricity production, better public transport, walking and cycling to increase resiliency, reduce emissions and benefit the economy.
At the household level the report also says people will continue to struggle with energy bills because the price of electricity will remain higher than inflation for the next 18 years.
There is some good news in the report including promising renewable electricity production and New Zealand’s energy intensity is forecast to improve 21 per cent by 2030 however many of the challenges forecast in the report will just worsen given the Government’s Energy Strategy.