Gareth Hughes

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

by Gareth Hughes

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.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Wed, October 16th, 2013   

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