A weekend of action against deep sea oil

This weekend saw New Zealanders out on our coastlines around the country with a clear message: no deep sea oil drilling in our waters – our environment is too precious to risk.

Green MPs Catherine Delahunty and Steffan Browning joined Hands Across the Sand events in Coromandel and Christchurch. Kaikoura might have put on the most impressive demonstration of all – just check out this video!

In Coromandel, Catherine Delahunty took part in a flotilla demonstrating against mining in schedule 4 (seabed) area, after the Government gave out 6 permits to mining companies for prospecting, or “just looking”, in our most precious conservation estate.

On Sunday at Auckland’s famous Piha beach, the Green Party launched our campaign against deep sea drilling with the unveiling of the Kiwi Bid – our bid to protect our waters for all of us, rather than allow corporations to conduct risky deep-sea drilling. Our special guest speakers, NZ surfing champion Mischa Davis and rowing legend Rob Hamill did a fabulous job, alongside Green MPs Metiria Turei and Gareth Hughes.

Thanks to Piha for hosting us and coming along in great numbers – we can think of no better place to have kicked off this campaign!


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19 Comments Posted

  1. You want to collect tax to switch to renewables, but every time a wind-farm (renewable source) is proposed the Green movement lobbies against the resource consent. !

    …and who told you THAT lie Dave? You’re a moderately smart boy but you obviously are absorbing a lot of ridiculous cant from somewhere. I am astonished by it.

  2. dave – I am only a Green party voter. I don’t represent the Green Party. However I haven’t opposed any wind farms. Nor have I opposed solar arrays or geothermal plants, and I am OK with some but not all hydro development. I have advocated for wave power investment, such as LIMPET.

    As far as drilling for gas and oil, I am OK with it providing it is done safely and using best practices for minimising damage to the environment. Deep sea drilling in New Zealand’s waters does not meet either, so I oppose that.


  3. Trevor

    For example, a CO2 tax encourages electricity generators to switch to renewables and away from gas and coal. It also encourages fleet owners to switch from petrol to CNG “

    Now I’m totally confused.
    You want to collect tax to switch to renewables, but every time a wind-farm (renewable source) is proposed the Green movement lobbies against the resource consent. !
    You want fleet owners to switch to Compressed Natural Gas, but when there is a proposal to dril for natural gas and oil the green movement wants not only to lobby against the resource consent, but also to be allowed to protest in a way tat interferes with people going about their lawful business. !

    I have big problems geting my head around the logic you are putting forward here.

  4. Nigel – I don’t think you need to worry much about leaks around our borders. In case you hadn’t noticed, there is rather a lot of ocean between us and anyone else. Unlike many countries, profiteers can’t just fill up a few jerry cans and drive across the border!

    You still haven’t answered how the reduced amount of oil will be allocated. Whatever method you choose, you need to ensure that it is not counter-productive, I would not want to see long queues at petrol station, or people driving from one petrol station to another to top up their tanks. A simple increase in price may be the best way or reducing demand, but this means someone makes a windfall. At least with a tax, everyone gets a share of that windfall.

    The other problem with the sinking lid on oil imports is that it doesn’t address our local production of fossil fuels – it even encourages it. This is fine if peak oil is your only concern, but it doesn’t address AGW.

    In some cases, direct action by government is the best way. Labour’s moratorium on new fossil fueled base load generation was a start in the right direction. Converting some of the government vehicle fleet to CNG (or better still buying electric vehicles) would be another positive step.


  5. All good points guys. So a tax is the best idea, but it adds complexity of course. And any tax idea we could institute in NZ would suffer so much from leakage from the rest of the world around the edge of our little economy it would have a very difficult time to achieve the desired environmental outcome.

    Susan’s idea of the reduced import regime will work quite well enough.



    This process will replicate over a gentle span of months and if we are lucky years what will happen to us someday anyway (possibly not too many harvests away) when Chindia’s oil demand matches the sum of oil available for export in the world C2029, 16 years from now. 16 harvests before the only food you eat is what’s grown within walking distance.

    ( http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9765#comment-939807 )

    Then, when no ships arrive at Marsden wharf, we will have to do in a matter of weeks the adaption the Falling Lid regime will have given us experience with over several years.

    So in my view we should focus on what NZ can do so that NZ will be in the best position when oil supplies falter. A leaky imprecise tax system will teach us very little, while a falling lid on imports will teach us exactly what we need to know and position us to be in a much better position when oil imports only happen north of the equator.

    But I guess it depends whether you are still plugging leaks, or building lifeboats!


  6. Nigel – Perhaps the complexity of the problem is greater than you realize? Remember that I have repeatedly asserted here that the layering of Society, Economy, Environment is not that assumed by many Greens… the Economy stands BETWEEN Society and Environment. I’ve seen the concentric circles drawn wrong way about by several people, and it has invariably drawn comment from me, but never been acknowledged.

    Society creates the economy that then extracts from and alters the environment to supply the needs of the society.





    …and the society cannot directly alter the use of the environment with any efficiency or in any simple way at all. Bans and Limits alter the economy in what one reckons as secondary effects, but those effects are extensive, unpredictable and real. Whether it appears so or not, the tax is actually simpler both to apply and in effect.

    That’s just the simplest part of it though.

    Because the economy is where it is, any distortion in the economy is apt to cause damage to the environment. Which, given the existence of the fractional reserve system of money, that makes all our money debt based and creates a necessity for unending growth a feature of the very EXISTENCE of that money, makes for a very grim sort of result with respect to the environment. It causes a lot of OTHER problems besides but in terms of the environment it is bad enough to require it to be changed JUST on that ground alone.

    Which is why I reckon the problem is more complex, rather than that the answer must be simpler. The “tax” is the simplest thing we can do to address the problem. Actually changing the societal and national definition of our money is the CORRECT answer, and given our rather dire situation that would have to be coupled with something like a tax as well.

  7. NigelW – a tax on CO2 emissions is at least fair. It also encourages switching to alternatives if they work out cheaper. A tax on CO2 emissions can be said to correct a market distortion. It encourages the reduction of CO2 emissions by the most cost-effective means, whereas alternatives tend to distort the market, leading to a less than optimal outcome.

    For example, a CO2 tax encourages electricity generators to switch to renewables and away from gas and coal. It also encourages fleet owners to switch from petrol to CNG where this is available, and the CNG should be more available if less of it is being used for electricity generation.

    The government could also help move motorists onto CNG itself, being one of the largest fleet owners of new cars. All it has to do is convert some of its own fleet to CNG. Most private motorists buy second-hand cars, and it is less economical to convert these to CNG due to the lower remaining milage, but these motorists would use CNG if their cars could take it, such as if they purchased ex-government cars which were already converted.


  8. Yup! Mind you I will be most surprised if any of us turns to be right! ‘Interesting times’ are prone to be a tad unpredictable, and the black swan doesn’t whoop ’till she has arrived eh! Go well! N

  9. Nigel – how would a cap on total oil imports work? Would it lead to petrol rationing? Car-less days? The price of petrol increasing to the point where consumption falls enough? Are any of these any fairer than a tax on CO2 emissions? At least with the tax, the importers and distributors don’t get a windfall and we don’t get a black market.


  10. Trevor and BJ! Thanks. I agree, and groan at the complexity of it all while feeling that our solutions must be less complex rather than more complex than the problem. I am utterly aware of the tragedy of our commons, and how classical a case of this effect our predicament is.

    But I still cannot see that increasing the cost to you and me (which implies that we will then – by our self will – reduce our demand for oil and coal) can be any better than us simply reducing our demand without going to the trouble of the tax. There are other ways to change people’s behaviour than by racking up the price.

    Susan Krumdieck has proposed a simple lowering cap of about 5%p.a. on the amount of oil imported to New Zealand each year as a way to solve the ‘use less’ problem. If we committed to that (and yes that does involve a trivial bit of top down management) then the result would certain and the cost nothing. We would soon find ways to make life work with less.

    Last elections the Greens stood a good chance of becoming the government with a clear majority – they had better ideas, a better view of community and justice for all, the only sensible environmental policy and the support of an electorate that had grown tired of the business as usual offered by the Nats (although we should be grateful to the Nats for not rocking the boat too much). But then the Greens went and declared that they thought they could get maybe 15% of the vote that year, and the electorate said ‘Oh, don’t they want to govern!?” and the Greens promptly got what the wished for.

    Now the Greens are holding hands with Labour, and no body knows what they stand for anymore.

    Fer gawdsake Green put up a candidate in every seat, stand up alone and proud and go for broke! Put up a list of legislation you will repeal (not just tinker with) including Resource Management Act, Auckland Big City with No Representation Act, Christchurch and Canterbury Citizen’s Dis-empowering Legislation, Housing for Millionaires Act (try and build a small (10 – 20 sqm) truly affordable house on a small lot) Minerals For Mates Acts and all the other rubbish. Stop all road building and divert that money into public transport (electrified) and walk/cycle facilities. Subsidise insulation and heat exchange ventilation of every home in the country, and ensure every new home (even small ones) is built to a standard that obviates the need for additional heating energy. Put a good school providing free education within walking distance of every child and a policeman on every corner. Promote the benefits of a healthy diet for control of health at the top of the cliff rather than the use of pharmaceuticals at the bottom. Promote the use of council waste land and road verges for the establishment of community gardens. The list is both obvious and needed.

    C’mon Greens ! What have we got to loose! Worth a crack, eh!


  11. Nigel – I think that studying the basic structure of the “Tragedy of the Commons” is a necessary aspect of being a Green. The problem is that individual actions CANNOT be used to alter the fate of the commons. It requires a collective societal effort… a.k.a. “self-government” to do it. Which means that given our democracy, it is our government’s responsibility to force the issue.

    The commons cannot be saved by the actions of individuals, no matter that they kill themselves trying.

    As I pointed out to someone else in another thread, someone who made the same error of thinking this is about making “other people” pay more for emitting CO2. We want EVERYONE to pay mode. That is how the invisible hand is turned to better use. The process includes us, but it cannot be limited to JUST us.


  12. Nigel – If we reduce our fuel use, other people are likely to use more rather than less. A CO2 tax encouraged everyone to use less, but the money raised by the tax doesn’t disappear. It can be used to reduce other taxes or to pay for other measures to reduce CO2 emissions.

    And when I say efficiency, I mean something measured in percent. Storing electricity in a battery and then extracting it again is unlikely to be much better than 85% efficient, and could be a lot worse. Utility level storage systems can do better than this. If surplus power from one site can be used at another, the efficiency can be close to 100%. This translates into fewer solar panels for the same CO2 emission reductions.

    And if you are considering resiliance, perhaps you also need to consider reliability. Utility-scale systems are more reliable than most household scale systems simply because of economies of scale – the people servicing them can have more training, it is less expensive to have redundancy, it is (proportionally) cheaper to have good tools and test equipment, etc.


  13. Thanks Trevour! I wasn’t actually after ‘efficiency’ but rather resilience, healthy self reliance and the self respect that comes with those happy states. As Rick Austen says in The Abundant Community, ‘systems (like PV) were never designed to be satisfying only efficient’ while community engagement in the form of volunteerism is never designed to be efficient only satisfying. And that’s what we are after, I think, a community full of happy people who are ‘satisfied’ with what they give to life and with what life gives back.

    ‘Efficiency’ implies a commercialised view of what we are about, not a community view.

    And bjchip. Carbon tax? ….

    er… no. It is utterly beyond me as to why I should nag government to increase the price of a commodity that I use to encourage me to use less of it. The only reason I can think of for a carbon tax aimed at reducing consumption is if the promoters of the tax want somebody else (not them) to reduce their fuel use.

    If we are able to go to the trouble of nagging ‘Them’ to ‘do something about our consumption of oil’ then surely it is just as much trouble for ‘Us’ to simply reduce our use of oil in the first place and be done with it?

  14. …and of course, government can tax the CO2 of the hydrocarbon fuels that currently displace and discourage development of all alternatives by their rape of the environment for all future generations.

  15. NigelW – lead acid batteries for home solar power systems are not cost-effective. Grid-based storage is cheaper overall because of economies of scale and the ability to use options not available to a householder, such as pumped hydro storage (or conventional hydro storage if it is available). Also using the grid allows surplus power from one region to be used in another region where the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. This usually works out to be more efficient than charging and discharging batteries.

    But you are right in saying that there is a lot that government can do. One of the things government can do is to ensure that the people have access to the information they need to make sensible choices. Government can also regulate to ensure that people have choices, such as ensuring all hot water cylinders are made with connections for solar water heating.


  16. Great effort! I guess there are a couple of ways we can reduce emissions.

    We can either bludgeon oil drillers and coal miners until they stop producing oil and coal. If we are successful but persist with our own behaviour then we will have to then figure out what to do when one day the food does not arrive at the supermarket and Huntly power station shuts down and we end up in the dark and the kids have to walk to school because there is no fuel for the trucks, coal trains and cars.


    We can reduce our own personal energy consumption, and hence (if enough people follow this responsible course of action) reduce the overall demand for these ‘bad’ fuels. By reducing the demand the price of oil and coal will fall making drilling or mining silly, dangerous and expensive places like deep water or the Denniston Plateau totally uneconomic. And this would all be achieved without wasting time or effort waving placards or throwing any bricks at oil or coal companies.

    So if we want to pressure the government for anything, it should be for support in meaningful ways to reduce our actual personal energy consumption.

    Government can help ensure that there is a school within walking distance of every child (like Christchurch – NOT!), that places we work are integrated with places we live, shop and play in an environment that operates well by walking, cycling and public transport, with excellent broadband so we can really do more on line. So spend more on public transport and walk and cycle facilities, push the boundaries on integration of commercial and living areas, support the ‘old’ social services like Plunket to get health care happening at the top rather than the bottom of the cliff.

    Reduce speed limits to 30kph in towns to eliminate most crashes and serious injuries and drop vehicle emissions. This will signal us to look closer to home for all the ‘destinations’ we frequent. A lower speed will also allow us to use small locally-made battery powered vehicles (like golf carts)for urban travel. By adding these activities to the mix we will find traffic volumes decrease, the need for new roads quietly goes away.

    Create an indigenous solar panel and lead acid battery industry to put tax-payer funded and owned solar panels on every house. The cost of the industry would be offset by savings in expenditure on additional generating capacity and distribution and it will create jobs in manufacturing, installation and on-going maintenance.

    So there are ‘big picture’ things that government can do, but the most important efforts are those individual actions that reduce our own household’s energy demand. Negawatts are the best way to reduce emissions, and reflect a recognition that business as usual is not an option for our future.

    So, we can actually ignore big oil and bad coal – by simply reducing our demand we will (to paraphrase the IEA) “Leave oil before it leaves us” and the world will be a better place.

  17. It is great to see action building against this Governments ignoring of the people.

    In the early days of anti-nuclear campaigning and the likes. This took about 15 years to become a majority, and then a few years more to change things.

    Last canpaign against widespread mining took a smaller time frame, but today we have a bigger than 15% grouping – a third maybe – so getting the concerns and truths out there will only take a short time to effect opinion.

    This energy needs also to focus on this governments attempt to ignore our basic human rights, and our Bill of Rights in matters such as the Carers bill, and how they are taking public input out of Resource management.

    This is a government that knows it has no mandate but doesn’t know any other way to keep business as usual, as peoples survival priorities change.

    It only takes a concerted effort until the election and maybe a 20% vote for Green and Mana to change this path. Careful use of our money anmd resources ie buy local, and support recycling and companies prepared to recycle and the economics will drive the change. Hold onto the electronic technology you have until recycling is demonstrated by the vendor. They will soon wake up, especially if you tell them Maybe a new campaign?

    Climate change is our main indicator that we are damaging the planets regeneration sysytem so lets fix it..

  18. very happy to see such well organized action created good awareness…it’s wonderful to have those celibrity involved and supported these good campaigns. Let’s hope they will continue to support this campaign (with committed efforts i mean).
    sorry i couldn’t be there (out there collecting sigs still) to join you guys even though I fully support your initiative.
    Wonderful efforts!! Thank you all!

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