Gareth Hughes
Coal to stay in the hole: waking up from the Southland ‘lignitemare’

In news out today Solid Energy’s lignite processing plant in Mataura Southland is to be mothballed. It looks like this is the final nail in the coffin for Solid Energy’s expensive grandiose gamble on low-grade lignite coal which could have been New Zealand’s largest new source of greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s great news for the climate and I would like to congratulate the campaigners who have spent years trying to stop this polluting project. I joined them in opposing lignite coal because as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment warned it was a bad choice for New Zealand:  “…plans to increase lignite use are extremely concerning as they would produce huge quantities of carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change – the biggest environmental threat we have ever faced.” With our emissions already amongst the highest per-capita in the world New Zealand going down the lignite coal path would have truly been a ‘lignitemare’ that would of seen our emissions soar, reputation plummet, and clean green brand wrecked.

New Zealand’s future is in looking to provide clean energy services, technology and expertise to the world and building our valuable clean, green brand. We won’t do this by looking to the Nineteenth Century and fossil fuels for economic inspiration.

To promote my Climate Change Response (Low Carbon Economic Development) members’ bill which would have removed pollution subsidies to lignite coal and would of focused on clean energy solutions I launched a ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole’ online game, so have a play and celebrate Southland’s success in keeping the coal in the hole.

9 thoughts on “Coal to stay in the hole: waking up from the Southland ‘lignitemare’

  1. Yeah, we’re so industrialized we’re only in the top 25%. We have emissions that are higher per capita than either China or India in spite of being primarily an agrarian economy. We’re very wasteful. The fact that others are worse doesn’t make us good enough.

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  2. We in the South appreciated your support, Gareth. You were the first MP (of any party) who actually came down here to talk to all stakeholders and attended both of our Keep the Coal in the Hole festivals. The Green Party has been solidly behind our campaign and it is great to see that commonsense won out in the end – but at a huge cost to taxpayers.

    I would also like to acknowledge Don Lamont, who sadly did not live long enough to celebrate this day: http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/don-lamont-1922-2013-great-southern-man.html

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  3. Photonz1 they are, that is the difference between gross emissions and per-capita. You can break the world into any 4m people chunks and say it’s insignificant, but the fact is we are using our unfair share to pollute and it’s not because we are bad, but because successive Labour and National Governments have failed the greatest challenge of our age.

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  4. Gareth, the world does not dive neatly into population chunks; it divides into countries.

    And ultimately, yes, it is because we are bad; like we consume the evil that is chocolate, we like our lifestyles to include lots of emission producing activities.

    And we also farm a lot.

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  5. Gareth says “Photonz1 they are, that is the difference between gross emissions and per-capita. ”

    Unbelievable.

    Now you’re trying to say the list that puts NZ at 50th biggest emitter PER CAPITA, isn’t actually per capita – it’s gross emissions.

    “List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita”

    What are the two last words in the list’s title?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

    Must be annoying for you when facts and truth get in the way of putting down New Zealand.

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  6. Cows emit methane not carbon dioxide, photonz. NZ’s contribution to climate change is made up of all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide.

    Must be annoying for you when facts and truth get in the way of putting down the Green MPs.

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  7. ” the world does not dive neatly into population chunks; it divides into countries.”

    and the countries divide into states and the states divide into counties…

    Any group can say that they are only part of a small chunk and that what they do isn’t significant, and in a sense they are right. But they are also part of a larger chunk and what that larger chunk does IS significant, so in that sense they would be wrong.

    Only the names of the chunks vary. New Zealand is part of Australasia and Australasia is part of Oceania. Ultimately we are all part of humanity and we are all contributing to climate change except for certain groups living subsistence lifestyles.

    Trevor.

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