Calls to ban coal and lignite mining are
irresponsible, and dodge the real issues concerning climate
change, writes Chris Baker.
Milk tankers unload Milk at the Fonterra Plant at Edendale.
Coal and gas are the chief energy sources used to convert
milk into milk powder. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The past 12 months could be called the year of silly advice
on climate change.
Apparently, if we ban coal and lignite mining, New Zealand
will be able to help stop global warming.
This was Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm's message to the West
Coast in April 2010.
In May, Greenpeace protested in Timaru against Fonterra using
coal to manufacture milk powder.
Last November, Greenpeace did the same at Solid Energy's
lignite mine near Gore.
A year later, Jeanette Fitzsimons confesses she is wrong
about energy efficiency being a solution to climate change,
and calls for a ban on coal mining.
Until China and India (and many other developing and
developed countries) find a way of producing electricity for
less than 6c a kilowatt-hour using something other than coal,
those countries will burn coal.
There's around one trillion tonnes of easy-access coal
available. All the negotiations in the world will not alter
All the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts to date have
not altered the fact that large quantities of carbon dioxide
from burning fossil fuels, including coal, enter the
atmosphere and will continue to enter the atmosphere over the
The Minister Responsible for International Climate Change
Negotiations, Tim Groser, is to travel shortly to Washington
DC to chair a meeting of the world's 17 biggest greenhouse
gas emitters, including India and China, to see what can be
done by each of these countries to reduce emissions.
That New Zealand has been asked to play a leading role in
discussions to do with 80% of the world's emissions is hugely
We are responsible for 0.2% of the world's emissions.
The Major Economies Forum is where the real debate is, and
New Zealand is centre stage.