International backlash gathers speed

Press release - March 24, 2010
Greenpeace says the kind of international backlash seen today in the Economist magazine (1) demonstrates that John Key’s Government is putting the New Zealand economy at risk with its 19th century economic thinking.

"Unless it changes direction quickly, the National-led Government will go down in history as the administration that presided over the collapse of New Zealand's clean green reputation," said Greenpeace Campaigner Simon Boxer.

"That reputation has been built up over many decades but could disappear overnight. If the brand goes, so does the country's reputation as a premier tourist destination and supplier of quality exports."

"Many Kiwis have jobs today that directly benefit from New Zealand's clean, green brand. To threaten the brand by returning to 19th century industrial policies is to risk economic suicide.

"Its no skin off the nose of the global mining industry if New Zealand's reputation collapses, but it will be a tragedy for tourism, agriculture and fishing.  John Key needs to let go of outmoded economic thinking that cannot serve New Zealand in a world that's moving towards a green industrial future.

Boxer quoted the article, which is the latest in a string of international exposes blowing the cover on "Clean Green NZ".  "The difference between New Zealand and other places is that New Zealand has actively sold itself as "100% Pure".

The article says New Zealanders themselves have acknowledged the gap between the claim and reality. "Now it's just a matter of the truth getting out to the rest of the world," said Boxer.

The article draws on New Zealand's rising greenhouse gas emissions and recent proposals to mine conservation land.

"It's as if climate change doesn't even exist for John Key and his party. They are planning to mine coal from a National Park on the West Coast, to burn domestically, mostly by Fonterra (2). The emissions from the extraction and burning of that coal are equal to half of New Zealand's total annual emissions. (3)

"This contradicts the Government's rhetoric at Copenhagen, where it claimed to take the global threat of climate change seriously."

Greenpeace is calling on the Government to offer an economic vision for the 21st century that plays to the strength of our clean and green reputation and meets the challenges of climate change. This includes dropping plans to remove key conservation land from Schedule Four, and committing to a 40% by 2020 emissions reduction target.

Other contacts: Simon Boxer: Senior Climate Campaigner -021905579 Kathy Cumming: Media and Communications – 021 495 216

Notes: (1) (2) Fonterra’s coal use is now over 450,000 tonnes annually with the 17% increase in coal use through the expansion of the Edendale dehydrator in September 2009. (3) Solid Energy’s Don Elder is quoted as saying that the 15-20Mt of coal from Paparoa will be used domestically, totally 30-40Mt of CO2 emissions.