Over 140,000 New Zealanders demand a clean energy future

Press release - July 24, 2012
Wellington 24/7/12: Groups from around the country have this afternoon converged on Parliament to deliver a 140,000-plus signature petition, calling on John Key’s Government to abandon its fossil fuels agenda, in favour of clean energy.

Groups and individuals supporting the hand-in event came from the East Cape (Te Whanau a Apanui), Hamilton, Raglan, Nelson, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

At the same time a 2000 signature-strong petition was also delivered by Oil-Free Otago, protesting Texan oil giant Anadarko’s plans to begin deep sea drilling off the Otago and Canterbury coasts as early as this summer.

“This is a message the Government can’t ignore,” said Simon Boxer, Greenpeace New Zealand Senior Climate Campaigner.

“Well over 100,000 New Zealanders have given a definite ‘no’ to deep sea oil, and to any expansion of the coal industry. Instead they’ve said they want their energy to come from clean, renewable sources, that don’t come with the risk of either a catastrophic oil spill, or runaway climate change.”

Among those who travelled to Wellington for the event was the Chairperson of Te Whanau a Apanui Runanga, Adelaide Waititi.

“We are heartened by the number of people who’ve put their name to the growing movement to keep deep sea oil rigs out of the waters of Aotearoa, including off the East Cape,” she said. 

“Deep sea oil drilling off our coasts threatens the economy, our pristine coastlines, and Otago’s future as a whole,” said Niamh O’Flynn, from Oil-Free Otago.

“The success of our petition has shown that people from all over Otago are strongly opposed to drilling in the Canterbury Basin, and are angered by the lack of public consultation over the issue,” she said.

“The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico forced the authorities to close off an area of ocean twice the size of the North Island,” says J Beaudry, from the Raglan-based surfer’s protest group, B-Rad.

“Anadarko, one of the companies headed to New Zealand, owned a quarter share of the Deepwater Horizon project. What’s to stop the same thing happening to one of its deep water rigs, only this time off our coast,” Beaudry asked.

But the costs of ignoring clean energy alternatives won’t only be environmental, according to Simon Boxer.

"The Government’s fossil fuel agenda is causing New Zealand to miss out on billions of dollars of clean energy contracts and thousands of jobs. To ignore the financial opportunities for New Zealand arising from the global clean energy revolution, that last year was worth over US$250 billion(1), is nothing short of economic mismanagement," he said.

The delivery of the petition comes as the Government’s EEZ legislation is before the House.

“The EEZ legislation won’t stop an oil spill. It is designed simply to make it look as though the Government cares about the consequences of its obsession with fossil fuels, when it does not,” Boxer said.

Yesterday the trial of Elvis Teddy, a member of Te Whanau a Apanui, began in the Tauranga District Court. Teddy is facing charges in relation to his participation in the 2011 Stop Deep Sea Oil Flotilla.

Last week Greenpeace and Te Whanau a Apanui appealed an early decision not to revoke the permit given to Petrobras to explore for oil in the deep water off the East Cape. The two groups contend that the permit is illegitimate, because the potential effects of a major oil spill were not considered by the Minister before he granted the permit, and because Te Whanau a Apanui were not adequately consulted before the permit was granted.

Editor’s notes:

(1)    http://www.bnef.com/PressReleases/view/180

The text on the petition reads: “To Prime Minister John Key and the New Zealand Government: We call on you to permanently stop all plans to open up New Zealand’s coastal waters to dangerous offshore drilling, and stop any expansion of coal mining in New Zealand. We demand a clean energy future the helps combat climate change.”

Each box contains approximately 5000 signatures.