ECO today welcomed an announcement that no new coal mines will be approved in China for three years and a further 1,000 existing coal mines are to be closed.
ECO spokesperson Cath Wallace said New Zealand should follow China’s lead and also stop issuing approvals or renewals of coal mine permits.
“China will ban for three years the issue of new coal mine approvals, and has announced the closure of a further 1,000 coal mines this year. This follows the closure of several thousand mines in the last 2 years.”
“This move is good for the environment and will help save lives and sickness from air pollution and from climate-related effects of China’s enormous greenhouse gas emissions,” Cath Wallace said. “The Chinese government has also announced more specific moves to shift to more renewable energy sources, a process already well underway in China.”
The International Energy Agency annual coal market report last month predicted flat or downward trend in coal demand, particularly in China, and low coal prices.
“The New Zealand Government should follow suit by refusing new coal mine and prospecting applications. We need to move away from this sunset industry to a modern economy driven by solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources, with efficient clean energy.”.
“The Government should develop a strategy out of coal, including transitional assistance for mine workers,” she said.
“Several coal mine applications have been notified in the last month. Some of these are in sensitive natural areas on Department of Conservation (DoC) land and this is a further reason to reject them on top of the pollution of the climate, air and water that coal mining produces.”.
“One of these is on DoC land near Mokau in the central North Island, where a private company owned by a Simpson family wants to mine 300,000t of coal annually. They talk of clean coal but propose to mine the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. They want to do this on public land that would be de-forested, dug up and contaminated, the water is likely to be contaminated and the emissions would damage the climate. They want to do this right through coming decades for over a century!”
The NZ Petroleum and Minerals of the MoBIE, has granted them rights for multiple 21 year terms so that, if DoC and local government agree, they could mine for well over a century to well into the 2100’s.
Another open cast coal mines has been applied for near Mt Te Kuha near Westport in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area.
“The Chinese government move comes less than a month after the Paris Climate agreement. “This is good news, because it points the way for other countries and gives assurance that China is moving to honour its climate protection commitments made at the Paris Climate meeting,” Cath Wallace said.
“People all over the world and nature will benefit from these moves to shift from coal to clean technologies.”
“New Zealand companies such as Fonterra should follow suit. Fonterra is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases because it uses coal for drying mild powder. It could use wood pellets from New Zealand grown plantations instead.
“The New Zealand government should follow China’s lead and move its investment and regulatory effort to clean renewable energy. .”