Wishful thinking, allied to government incompetence and the ambition of our Prime Minister, is lining up trouble ahead. In one of the extraordinarily foolish moves characteristic of her Labour coalition, Jacinda Ardern apparently wants to shine on the world stage by compelling this country to attempt to conform to the UN’s nonsensical Paris Climate Agreement for countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As this agreement basically centres on no longer relying upon the use of fossil fuels — coal, gas and petroleum — one would assume the hard work has been done, underpinned by competent thinking to ensure such a commitment is being undertaken without risk to our economy. However, unfortunately, Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, is thought to be completely out of depth in this area. So let’s check what is happening.
First, rather than phasing out fossil fuels, we are importing record amounts of coal. Whereas only 550,000 tonnes were imported in 2017, for example, in the 12 months until last March alone we imported 1.4 million tonnes. Coal imports for the three-quarter year since mid-2020 totalled 973648 tonnes, the highest quarterly since mid-2012, over twice than the year earlier — the highest for any nine-month period going back to 1989. So what has happened that we have had to start importing so much coal, all from Indonesia?
At the same time, it is estimated that the South Island West Coast has 15 billion tonnes of coal we are not allowed to mine. China, Russia, India, even Australia are eschewing such basic folly, producing more and more coal and planning to increase their global output, with more and more coal mines being constructed.
But here in the land of Utopia, the official line is that all this massive increase in our coal imports is only temporary, until we need no longer use it to supply sufficient energy for our boilers, healthcare facilities, uniform laundering companies, schools, prisons, high-end hotels and other industries.
But where is this alternative energy to come from? Largely apparently, from biofuel, burning woodchips, which helps to partly explain Ardern’s governments now unprecedented attacks on our farming industry, its extraordinary call for productive farmland to be replaced by pine forests, and one of our major sources of food supplies — animal livestock — to now be reduced and limited.
However, those genuinely knowledgeable about what actually would be needed say this would basically require eventually stripping New Zealand bare of every tree, given that our electricity supplies are also in jeopardy and our ugly wind-farm turbines, producing environmentally polluting, disturbing noise in their vicinity, are being put on the back burner by power suppliers Mercury and Contact energy.
The reality at present? Christchurch hospital’s Acute Services building, to the annoyance of the Greens, decided to put cost imperatives ahead of the ideology, its chief executive at the time pointing out there was a lot of misinformation about coal, with wood also producing sulphur dioxide, and modern coal boilers being very efficient, their filtration plants designed to be environmentally friendly. “Using woodchips would require four truck and trailer loads to be delivered to the busy hospital site daily — compared to one delivering coal every second day for fuel.” And what about the emissions more frequent truck and trader loads produce?
Practices vary elsewhere. Synlait milk processing plant in Dunsandel, partly owned by China’s Bright Dairy Holdings, is a major coal burner with consent until 2049. Fonterra, the giant dairy cooperative, aims to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050. Its Brightwater site burns wood biomass. Fonterra’s Studholme site burns 4.4472 tonnes of coal an hour: its Darfield plant has consent to burn coal until 2045.
We are faced with a basic absurdity behind our government’s bullying of our major industries to phase out coal use. It is not only contradicted by the necessity of a huge increase in coal supply having to be brought into the country, but by what the government is, shockingly, not acknowledging – that nothing this small country can do can make the slightest bit of difference to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
New Zealanders are being forced to pay hugely, not only in economic terms, but in terms of the political and social control our government is planning to impose on us… Yet the information we have long had from reputable scientists is that carbon dioxide, a very minor greenhouse gas, does not contribute to any claimed global warming. If stupid is as stupid does, and other countries are producing more and more coal to boost their economies and safeguard their power supplies, our government’s thinking is culpable. Moreover, the Swiss people, in the most democratic and successful democracy in the world, have just rejected a new climate change law proposed by their government.
With an energy crisis looming, the debate here has heated up in relation to a proposed giant Lake Onslow hydro scheme, a highly controversial concept with industry figures describing it as a project of such magnitude that its huge environmental and economic risks could dissuade electricity companies from investing in generation that may be needed in the next few years to ward off power shortages in the North Island.
‘Sheer lunacy “seems to be a reasonable comment now made in relation to the incompetence obvious in so many areas relating to our present far-left government. Given the constraints established by its extraordinary ban on new offshore gas and oil exploration, the risk of unintended consequences is becoming obvious.
New Zealand has an energy crisis, with tight supply, and high electricity and gas prices doing serious economic damage to our industry suppliers. With businesses reportedly facing six-figure power bill increases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs are hitting firms as they look to renew their fixed power contracts. Scarcity and high prices are predicted well into 2023, with massive implications not just for the energy companies, but for the country. Moreover, it brings into question the viability of conducting business in New Zealand, formerly considered a first world country.
As a major industry spokesman has pointed out – this government tends to act without warning. It also tends to act in a very big way, causing not only incredulity, but providing a major disincentive to international investment.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.