Year of silly advice on climate change

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.
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.
Calls to ban coal and lignite mining are irresponsible, and dodge the real issues concerning climate change, writes Chris Baker.

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 this fact.

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 next decades.

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 significant.

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.

 

'Year of silly advice on climate change'

Chris Baker, mouthpiece for the coal industry, claims the world has a trillion tons of easily accessed coal, which, barring other sources of power below 6c per kw/hr, will be burned. This would double co2 in the atmosphere, already 30% above pre-industrial levels, and cause the flooding of cities and drying up of farms all over the world.
China produces nuclear electricity at that price, is increasing production rapidly, and is closing its dirtier coal burners and mines because of the horrendous cost in lives and health.

For New Zealand, with triple the greenhouse gas output per head already,and four times the per capita income, to open this toxic can of worms, would be short-sighted to the point of blindness. Lignite is the dirtiest fuel around, and would not be worth using if the co2 had to be stored.

John ONeill