Huntly Power station - New Zealand's last big coal-fired power plant

Desperate marketing from the fossil fuel industry

The oil and gas industry has launched a marketing campaign in New Zealand to try and convince people how great its dirty fossil fuel products are.

I’m not surprised. The fossil fuel industry is no stranger to desperate marketing attempts. They know their products are last century’s fuels and they’re struggling to hold on to market share as people turn to solar, wind, and other forms of clean energy.

The world is pushing forward to a clean energy future, and the fossil fuel industry is giving everything they’ve got to try and drag us back to the dark ages.

In Australia, until recently the coal industry had a mascot called Hector. Hector was a human-sized lump of coal. He went to sports games and appeared on TV, until some smart people wrote a children’s book in which Hector gets buried in the ground to “sleep forever”.

Then there’s the North American video about a boy who breaks up with his girlfriend, a barrel of oil, and then finds out that all the good things in life disappear without her.


Anti-fossil fuel protestors off the Raglan coast

The New Zealand fossil fuels campaign is slick. The website looks nice. The Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) must have spent some serious cash on it.

But it spouts the most absurd, outdated ideas.

“Unlocking the enormous value of our natural oil and gas resources fits with our shared commitment to a clean, green, prosperous New Zealand,” the video says.

You have to be seriously in denial to believe that digging up and burning more fossil fuels fits with being clean and green.

The science is very clear that if we’re to keep global warming under 2 degrees, we can’t burn most of the fossil fuels that we’ve already discovered. Looking for more is just madness.

And how would our 100% Pure NZ tourism posters look with an oil spill all over what used to be a pristine beach?

Not to mention the problems with the idea of “enormous value.” Oil companies are giving up on exploring in New Zealand because it’s uneconomic. If there really was enormous value to be had, they wouldn’t be packing up and going home.

Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes at Meridian’s the West Wind farm

“Globally, the transition to renewables is decades away,” the video says.

Wow. What a sad statement. I think New Zealand should be ambitious and help lead the transition to renewable generation like solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal today.

In the USA, solar already employs more people than fossil fuels. Globally, more renewable electricity generation is being built than fossil fuel generation.

Five or ten years ago, clean energy investment was very uneven. Rich countries built wind farms. Poor countries build coal plants. That is all changing. Clean energy investment in the developing world is now growing faster than in the developed world.

When Donald Trump was elected, some people worried that the clean energy revolution would stop. But we’re too far down that path already and the investment isn’t stopping.

Stephanie Pfeifer, the CEO of a group of 128 big green European investors with a combined 13 trillion euros in assets, said shortly after Trump’s election that clean energy growth is irreversible. She says:

“Renewables have already overtaken coal as a global power source, electric vehicles are the growth segment of the auto industry and jobs are being created in clean energy sectors faster than any other.”

The transition has very much begun. Huge amounts of investment are being mobilised as countries transform their energy systems from dirty to clean.

We can choose to be part of it, or we can be left behind.

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