New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government.
You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our economy is becoming, but the good news is that with some decent political leadership, there are solutions to make it cleaner.
Industrial diesel use has grown 35 percent under National (not counting light passenger vehicles like diesel cars). Last year, the primary industries sector alone used 630 million litres of diesel, enough to drive a typical diesel car around the Earth 193,000 times.
It’s no coincidence, given that National has run down the railways and allowed bigger and bigger trucks to take over our roads. It doesn’t have to be like this though. The Green Party has a plan to shift freight onto rail and coastal shipping, reducing diesel use and making our roads safer with fewer huge tucks.
Changing the fuels we use needs to happen at more local levels too. I’m really stoked to see Renault announce that it will start selling its Kangoo electric van in New Zealand. A bigger range of electric vehicles that suit tradespeople and industries is really important. And electric farmbikes are becoming more popular, which will hopefully help reduce the primary industries’ huge off-road diesel and petrol use.
Irrigation has also had a massive impact on energy use. Agricultural electricity use has grown by almost 50 percent in just the last five years, measured in kilowatt hours. National’s push to open up more and more marginal land for dirty dairy farming, that relies on irrigation, is unsustainable for so many reasons. One of these is the ever increasing demand on our electricity grid.
On the other hand, there are some primary industries producers who are really embracing clean technology. Yealands wine is one of them, having just installed the largest set of solar panels in New Zealand. And even some dairy farms are now running on solar power.
Overall, this new data just makes it clearer that for eight years, National has failed to shift our economy onto a sustainable, clean energy path. But it can be done, the technology exists, so when we change the government we’ll be ready to go.