PEPANZ gas report nothing but fake news and flatulence

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

An oil industry-commissioned report claiming to show the Government’s oil and gas exploration ban will cost billions is nothing but “fake news and flatulence”, according to Greenpeace.

The NZIER report commissioned by oil industry body, PEPANZ, claims the oil and gas ban issued by the Government last April could cost the the New Zealand economy $28 billion by 2050. It also claims it could cost the Taranaki economy $30 billion.

But Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the figures in the report are based on false assumptions and alternative facts.

“This report is simply a rehash of old modelling that failed to take into account the cost of climate change or the value that new clean energy industries will have as we transition away from fossil fuels,” she says.

“It assumes we have a choice about whether or not we respond to climate change. We don’t. We have just ten years to cut our emissions in half if we want to avoid passing the 1.5 degree warming threshold for human safety.”

Larsson says the effects of climate change will cost us dearly and inaction is not an option. Most recently, the Insurance Council of New Zealand confirmed that 2017 and 2018 were the two most expensive years in New Zealand for claims related to extreme weather.

“Ending fossil fuel use is non-negotiable. What matters now is how the Government and industry support workers and communities through the transition to clean energy so they are not negatively impacted,” she says.

“The oil and gas industry has had 40 years’ warning that fossil fuels are driving climate change – the industry now has a responsibility to invest in retraining and transition support for its workers and communities.

“In Taranaki, there are enormous opportunities in the clean energy industry. The skills employed in offshore oil and gas transfer well to the offshore wind industry, for example. In the US, we’ve seen wind and solar technicians become the two fastest growing professions.”

PEPANZ hopes to use the report as leverage for a review of the oil and gas ban. Larsson says she hopes common sense will prevail.

“PEPANZ is an oil hype group that exists solely to pedal propaganda for an industry that for decades has been knowingly causing climate change and denying it. The alternative facts pushed in this report are nothing but fake news and flatulence,” she says.

“The figures are based on fantastical modelling that imagines masses of gas lying offshore that despite intensive searching, the industry has failed to uncover. Oil and gas companies have drilled 75 wells in a decade and not found one bit of commercial gas – not even a fart’s worth.”



Amanda Larsson, Greenpeace NZ climate and energy campaigner, 021 722 794


Three reasons why plastics won’t save the oil industry

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

As electric vehicles and cheap solar panels cut into the demand for petroleum-based fuels, an increasingly desperate oil industry has been banking on plastics to drive future demand growth.

Here are three reasons why the logic behind this is flimsier than a cheap plastic bag.

Bad press: The petrochemical industry has been aware of the general problems with plastic pollution since at least the 1960s and that the oceans are filling up with plastic garbage since at least the 1970s. It is only recently, however, that this has been in the media spotlight. Plastic has turned into a real monster. We used to see litter as annoying, and dirty, but not really as a menace to our health and to our planet. Now, images of turtles caught in plastic rings, or whales full of single-use cups and bags washing up on our shores are impossible to ignore. Reports of plastic in our drinking water and even in our poop are turning people off plastic. For far too long, corporations have put the onus on individuals to recycle away their trash, but people are starting to realize that industry needs to clean up the mess they created — and stop producing throwaway plastic for good.

Regulations on the way: All this attention is leading to bans on single-use plastics popping up all over the place. Last fall, the European Union took a historic stand against single-use plastic pollution banning some of the most problematic throwaway products, including cotton buds, straws, cutlery and food and beverage containers, and ensuring producers are held accountable for the costs of single-use plastic pollution. Plastic straws as well as foam take-out containers and cups will soon be banned from Vancouver as part of its zero-waste strategy. NZ has banned single-use plastic bags. It seems like only a question of time before most countries get on board and realise that in order to curb plastic pollution, we need to ban problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics, incentivise a shift to more sustainable product delivery systems and hold corporations accountable for the full lifecycle of their products. Industry beware. Even BP admits these new rules could reduce the future demand for oil, and they have a long history of lowballing the potential growth of alternatives to what they sell.

Successful action on climate change makes plastic more expensive: This one is a bit more convoluted, so bear with us (longer version here). When oil companies drill for oil or natural gas, they are extracting a whole range of chemicals. The most valuable components of oil are turned into gasoline, diesel or jet fuel, while the most valuable component of natural gas (methane) is used in power plants or for home heating. Plastics are made from the leftover bits that aren’t particularly good fuels. If these bits weren’t turned into disposable bags, bottles and cups, then industry would have to pay to dispose of them.

In short: plastic is cheap because we burn a lot of fossil fuels. If we burn less gasoline, diesel or natural gas (and meeting the Paris climate agreement requires phasing out fossil fuel use by mid-century), then there won’t be such a glut of waste products to turn into plastics. This becomes a virtuous cycle because as the cost of making plastic rises, alternatives become more attractive.

So by bringing your own reusable coffee mug, or bugging your local coffee shop or supermarket to ditch single-use plastics, you’re doing a lot more good than you think. You’re not only helping to save our oceans, you’re also telling oil companies hoping that the booming single-use plastic industry will pick up the slack and keep profits up, to think again.

Want to help end the Age of Oil?

Ask the big corporations to Break Free from Plastics.

This blog was co-authored by Philippa Duchastel de Montrouge, from Greenpeace Canada’s Oceans & Plastics campaign and adapted slightly for New Zealand.


Transpower issues “game changing” report on solar

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

A new Transpower report into the future of electricity has been labelled “the most disruptive study to emerge in the New Zealand energy space”.

The country’s electricity grid operator, Transpower, has just released an addendum to last year’s significant report on New Zealand’s energy future, Te Mauri Hiko, which confirms that a renewable future is the most affordable for New Zealanders.

The addendum, called The Sun Rises on a Solar Energy Future, takes into account new technical work done by Transpower around battery technology.

Greenpeace climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says this latest update leaves no question that New Zealand should have a future powered significantly by solar.

“This report is a game changer. It’s the most disruptive study to emerge in the New Zealand energy space, and it’s exactly the sort of forward-thinking our Government should be taking notice of,” she says.

“What this report does is bust every myth the energy industry has been spinning around why we can’t have solar in our country.”

The report says many parts of New Zealand enjoy more sun than parts of the world where solar generation is already common, and the quality and availability of New Zealand sun is no barrier to a thriving solar energy system.

It also rejects the notion that solar doesn’t make economic sense in New Zealand. Utility level solar is already pricing on par with gas-fired peaking power stations, and solar is set to become the world’s cheapest form of energy.

Larsson says the Transpower report is a fresh call to start building new, clean solar power in New Zealand, particularly following the recent revelation that Genesis Energy has been burning record-setting amounts of coal during the sunniest months of the year.

“The price of power in New Zealand is set by the most expensive energy source in the grid. This means when they burn expensive fossil fuels like coal, people’s power bills go up and the big power companies profit,” she says.

“Summer is exactly the time of year we’re being flooded with clean energy from the sun. With proper investment in solar, we could have been protecting hundreds of thousands of people from rising energy bills, and alleviating pressure on our climate.

“We’ve met less than four percent of our solar potential here in New Zealand. It’s time to seize the sun.”

‘The Sun Rises on a Solar Energy Future’ was released days before maintenance work is set to begin at the OMV-operated Pohokura gas field off the Taranaki coast. Austria-based OMV have contracted a rig from Singapore to carry out the work.

Analysts predict the shut down will push power prices up in much the same way that faults and shutdowns at Pohokura drove major electricity price spikes last year.

Larsson says this shows that dirty fuels like gas are unreliable and New Zealanders are paying the price in higher energy bills.

“Not only is renewable energy like solar and wind cheaper and cleaner, but it also adds reliability to the grid so people aren’t hit with unfair price spikes every time some maintenance needs to be done on the gas fields,” she says.

“When your solar panel is faulty, you can phone a sparky to come round and fix it. You don’t have to drag a massive oil rig from the other side of the world just to repair a fault.”

In every scenario explored in the ‘The Sun Rises on a Solar Energy Future’, New Zealand’s future holds a significant increase in both distributed and utility-scale solar.

Larsson says the report is a reality check for the Government who must make urgent investment in the technology of the future.

“To echo the Transpower report: ‘We can’t afford to wait for the future’. If the Government is serious about acting on climate change, we should see a 2019 Budget brimming with commitments to help solarise New Zealand.”



How long is the tail wagging the fish in NZ’s fisheries management?

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

What’s that thing people say? You don’t know what you’ve got until they’re gone. Strangely I’m starting to feel that way about National’s former minister for primary industries. Bring back the Guy who was starting to put cameras on commercial fishing boats, Nathan Guy. Yes, really.

In the year running up to the election, Nathan Guy was being dragged down a relatively enlightened pathway towards a long overdue reformation of the out-of-control New Zealand fishing business.

This followed a ministerial inquiry which exposed a pile of steaming malfeasance by the industry and its supposed regulator, MPI. Commercial fishing companies were videoed unlawfully dumping fish and MPI had refused to prosecute them.

The ministry claimed it had legal advice telling them it wasn’t possible, then later admitted there was no such advice – they just made that up to give a reason not to prosecute. MPI was also forced to admit that illegal dumping was widespread after Greenpeace released leaked internal reports.

In response to all this Guy had agreed to put the cameras on vessels to try to stop overfishing and illegal dumping of fish.

At first blush the scheme was going to be implemented, administered and monitored by the fishing industry itself – a classic fox guarding the hen house scenario.

After investigations by Greenpeace and campaigning by many groups, National came round to the idea that it should be the government and not the industry checking the footage. By the time the election came the regulations to run the scheme were already in place.

All of that seems like a happy dream compared with where we find ourselves now. We now have a coalition government whose fishing policy increasingly appears to be guided by NZ First and in particular Shane Jones.

NZ First’s King Neptune may not have the portfolio but his fishy hand prints appear to be all over it. And his fish fingers are the wrong kind of fish fingers because he gets campaign money from Talley’s, one of the biggest players in the business. He received ten thousand dollars from the company towards his election campaign.

Jones strongly rejects any impropriety in his links with Talley’s, but it’s worth remembering this is also the fishing company that MPI found to be unlawfully under-reporting the weight of their cartons in the hoki fishery and hence under-reporting their catch. This MPI compliance investigation never saw the light of day until Greenpeace leaked it. Predictably Talley’s were not prosecuted because, as MPI’s head of compliance said, “we know from experience that prosecution will achieve behavioural change for maybe four or five years at best.” So they had a quiet chat instead and buried the report.

This would be an interesting approach to take to P dealers – by that logic the police shouldn’t prosecute because it only puts offenders off for a few years.

I have been accused by Stuart Nash, minister of fisheries (on paper anyway), of “living in an alternate reality.” In some ways it does feels a bit like that. In what kind of world does a government dominated by Labour serve up a fish dish so amenable to the industry and damaging to fish stocks, the environment and recreational fishers? In what kind of world do they do so after all the evidence of bad behaviour by the industry and MPI?

First, the cameras on boats. The coalition government has completely iced the project. The decision will be delayed till August. This isn’t just a matter of letting things slip – they actually had to unpick existing regulations to make it happen.

We’ve just learnt the fishing industry wrote Nash a letter totally opposing cameras in July last year, while hypocritically running TV ads with the memorable line “we have nothing to hide”. Nash’s current line is that he won’t implement the cameras without the “buy-in” of the fishing industry. Well, they ain’t buyin’ because they don’t want anyone to know what happens out there.

Second, an independent inquiry into fisheries management has been squashed by NZ First.

This was Labour policy at the last election because MPI can’t be trusted to run a review of fisheries management as they are captured by the fishing industry. As now senior cabinet minister David Parker said about MPI in 2016: “There’s no doubt that there has been connivance with a number of officials over a long period … and I think it’s fair to question whether the ministry has been captured by the [fishing] industry.”

But Stuart Nash now tells us that there is no need for an independent review because “there are some incredibly competent and skilled people at Fisheries NZ and they are not captured by the industry”. In Yes Minister parlance this is called “house training” the new minister.

Buoyed by their success in eliminating the independent inquiry and cameras on boats, the fishing industry now seems to have the government completely bent over a barrel. Based on the contents of the discussion paper released this week and other comments, the fishing industry now appears to be offering a deal.

The fishing companies will agree to halt the illegal dumping of fish – estimated to be as much as half the amount they catch or more – but only on the following terms:

1) The cameras on boats scheme is scrapped. Tick.

2) There is no independent inquiry into the fisheries system. Tick.

3) If anyone gets caught dumping, the companies will get a piffling fine, with the starting point  equivalent to a speeding infringement – $250 is the recommendation in the discussion paper.

Oh and 4) The fishing companies get a big increase in fishing quota (maybe as much as 30% more) – a signing bonus worth tens of millions of dollars.

Could you ever imagine the police saying to the owners of P labs “let’s give you a massive million dollar payout for stopping the selling of meth to minors and we’ll remove any monitoring or enforcement to see if you do actually stop”? That’s an alternate reality if ever I’ve seen one.

Did I mention the “cameras on boats” project disappears, so there will be no way of knowing if the illegal fish dumping really does stop anyway?

Then there’s the court case due to kick off in Nelson in a couple of weeks. Shane Jone’s campaign donor Talley’s owns the vessel Amaltal Apollo. It’s been bottom trawling in protected areas on the high seas. Fourteen charges have been laid by MPI. Talley’s don’t deny they did the bottom trawling but claim they did it because an on-board MPI observer said they could.

According to Jones, it’s just “a technical issue that will be ironed out when common sense prevails.

This incredibly ill-considered comment from a minister of the Crown risks undermining the case and is in breach of the Cabinet rulebook. He appears in effect to be telling MPI they shouldn’t be prosecuting because it’s just a “technical issue” and he’s telling the judge that Talley’s should be let off.

Because it happened in international waters, Talley’s bottom trawling also comes under the jurisdiction of the awkwardly named SPRFMO, the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation. Talley’s boat is now on the draft international blacklist of fishing boats.

The New Zealand government has been lobbying hard to get the Talley’s boat kept off the final blacklist.

We also know that the New Zealand government has been working to significantly increase the amount of stony coral that bottom trawlers are allowed to drag up in their nets before they have to stop. Was that Jones’s fishy fingers again or was it just MPI conducting business as usual?

Most worrying is New Zealand’s role in the UN negotiations towards a global Oceans Treaty. This is an historic opportunity to provide the global framework needed for setting aside 30% of the world’s oceans as protected areas by 2030.

Scientists say it’s imperative to provide ocean protection for a third of the world, in order to reverse ocean biodiversity loss, safeguard food security, restore marine ecosystems and increase their resilience against the devastating impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.

Rather than leading the charge it seems that the New Zealand government is advocating alongside Australia for a weak Oceans Treaty. A compromise which may result in a toothless document creating “paper parks” of unregulated sanctuaries, with limited if any benefit over the status quo.

Judging by the amount of DNA which Jones has left on domestic attempts to promote the vested interests of the fishing industry, it’s important for the New Zealand public to know how far his influence stretches. It may be unconnected, but after he abandoned the Labour Party, Jones went to work for the National government as its roving Pacific Economic Ambassador, with a particular focus on fishing.

How long is the tail that’s wagging the fish?


Nelson fires “tip of the ice sheet” without immediate emissions slash

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

Thursday, February 7: New Zealand scientists are behind a major new international research paper that shows dangerously unpredictable extreme weather could become a reality within decades as the impact of melting ice sheets becomes better understood.

Greenpeace climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the study published in the journal Nature is the latest in a series of alarms being sounded that the world has a very short amount of time to drastically reduce emissions.

It follows the release of a shock report late last year by the world authority on climate change, the IPCC, predicting the world has just 10 years to halve global carbon emissions before being locked into warming that could cause mass extinctions and the displacement and death of tens of millions of people.

“We’ve all watched the news over the past couple of days and been shocked at the extent of the fires in Nelson and the terrible impact they’ve had on the local people, community, and wildlife,” Larsson says.

“Extreme and dangerous weather like the fires, droughts, floods, and storms we’ve seen more frequently here in New Zealand over the past few years are the tip of the ice sheet.

“The paper released yesterday spells out very clearly that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting rapidly, affecting ocean currents, which could lead to increasingly unpredictable extreme weather.”

Larsson says the only way to curb the melt is to stop burning fossil fuels. The study predicts current policies outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement will not be enough.

“We’ve known for decades that burning fuels like oil, gas and coal is the major driver of climate change,” she says.

“We must rapidly phase out these outdated fuels and replace them with large investments in clean energy like solar, wind, and electrified transport.

“New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to ban new oil and gas exploration permits under Ardern’s leadership. This is a brilliant first step – but we need to be taking great leaps.

“It has never been clearer that we have a moral responsibility to stop burning the fuels that are driving this crisis.

“In New Zealand this means ending all subsidies and support to the fossil fuel industry, banning new thermal power plants like gas peakers, and stopping imports of petrol and diesel vehicles. It also means significant investment and support for renewable energy like solar and wind.”

“The release of this latest research led by New Zealanders is a wakeup call. We need immediate, innovative, and transformative changes to our domestic policy that will take us through to net zero emissions over the next few decades.”