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A campaign has been launched with the aim of ensuring New Zealanders understand why coal is important — even if they do not love it.
Minerals West Coast, with support from BT Mining, has launched a new website and three new videos to be viewed on social media.
"We are not asking anyone to love coal. But it still has got a role to play," Minerals West Coast manager Patrick Phelps said.
"In food production, keeping homes lit, and in steel. Food and shelter — it’s the basics we’re talking about."
Mr Phelps said there was a misconception that coal’s days were numbered, but in fact the tonnage used had only twice been higher than current volumes, during dry years in the mid-2000s.
Despite this, the carbon emissions from coal accounted for just 7% of New Zealand’s total, compared with oil at 22%-25%.
"But you don’t see Forest & Bird signs saying 'no new petrol stations'."
The videos also argued there were limited alternatives to coal-fired boilers.
Wood waste was limited and a long way from the Coast, and electricity was four or five times more expensive.
People were not using coal because they liked it, but because it was essential, he said.
"They can’t stop if they want to stay in business."
He said if the campaign could reach 10,000 people — or even 100,000 — and let them know coal had an essential role, it would be a success.
Some of the country’s climate change leaders could afford solar panels and e-cars, and they would also be retired before the ramifications of climate change policy were felt, he said.