Yesterday, the calm of our peaceful flotilla was broken. In 24 hours we’ve gone from a collection of yachts enjoying the company of whales, sharks, dolphins along with a lot of other spectacular Tasman wildlife, to living in the shadow of Anadarko’s monstrous drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas.
As the sun rose this morning over this beautiful section of the Pacific, the scene was dominated by the ugly sight of ‘Bob’. Just to give the size of this behemoth some context, Ros on the Baltazar described it’s approach yesterday like this: "Even while it was several miles away we could hear the roaring of Bob's engine room fans & see black smoke pluming" - you can imagine what it’s like floating here less than 500m from it!
We’re not only out here to protect this unique environment, we’re also here to safeguard the economic well being of all of New Zealand. We want to change the way we as a country think about energy so we’re not focused on the polluting industries of the past but actually taking a lead in the clean energies of the modern world.
Almost 30,000 jobs could be created in areas such as the geothermal and bioenergy industries right here in our country. The geothermal industry alone could have export opportunities worth over NZ$4billion to the economy every year. A growing bioenergy sector could see New Zealand becoming increasingly less reliant on foreign oil imports, saving the country over NZ$7billion each year by 2035.
The oil industry cannot come close to matching these numbers. That’s why, if it’s down solely to economics, the current government is backing the wrong industry. It isn’t the place to go to if you want to provide long-term jobs for thousands of kiwis. If you want prosperity, jobs and an economic boost provided by the energy sector, the oil industry simply is not the area we need to expand.
We could be world leaders here in clean energy but we’re slipping backwards. Other countries are waking up to the economic realities of clean tech and making the gains New Zealand should be. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Prime Minister of Sweden, said that his country “has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent since 1990, while GDP at the same time has increased by 60 per cent. So there is no contradiction between economic growth and the protection of environment.”
Already around three-quarters of our own electricity comes from renewable energy. Boosting that to 100 per cent could rescue our world-renowned but increasingly threatened clean, green brand.
The businesses, industries, economies and jobs of the future will be powered by clean technology. This great country, our country, has a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills to lead the way. We could and should take our expertise, our world-leading clean tech kiwi know-how and sell it to the world. We shouldn’t be opening our seas up to deep sea drilling or carving our land up for coal as the world moves the other way.
The future prosperity of New Zealand lies in exporting kiwi ingenuity not risking our environment and green image on exploiting polluting fossil fuels. There’s a booming clean economy just about to take-off. We could be more than just a part of it. We should play a leading role.