Greenpeace welcomes u-turn on mining as opportunity for Key to set new economic course

Press release - July 20, 2010
Greenpeace today welcomed the Government's about-face on Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee's plans to allow the mining of this country's most precious Schedule 4 protected public conservation lands. And Greenpeace congratulates the huge number of New Zealanders who showed their opposition to the proposals, with over 30,000 submissions against the government's plans, and over 40,000 people marching in Auckland on May 1.

Biggest protest march in living memory - March Against Mining

"The Government's turnaround is a heartening example of people power in action. This is a historic victory for the record number of New Zealanders who stood up to protect our most treasured places and for a vision of a truly sustainable and progressive 21st century economy for New Zealand," says Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer.

"It is encouraging to see John Key respond clearly to the overwhelming opposition by rejecting the most tangible example of Gerry Brownlee's failing strategy of short term profit over long-term environmental and economic prosperity," he says.

Greenpeace is now calling on Prime Minister John Key to take his Government's turnaround to its logical conclusion, and start doing what the rest of the world is doing - investing in the global cleantech revolution rather than in climate-damaging fossil fuels.

"Clean technology represents a huge economic opportunity that New Zealand simply can't afford to miss - a chance to achieve the sort of sustainable growth and a knowledge-led economy that will be the pillar of a 21st century green revolution. What we need from John Key's Government is a clear commitment to investing in clean technologies," Boxer says.

The overall annual market for renewable energy technologies will increase from around US$100 billion today, to more than US$600 billion by 2030. That will result in savings on emissions, create jobs, and lessen the inherent risks of fossil fuel exploration, as being demonstrated by BP's Gulf oil disaster.

"There are already over 250 New Zealand companies pioneering world class clean technology innovation from turning algae into energy to developing new geothermal power stations . And there's huge potential for this to grow with the right incentives and government policies," Boxer says.

While Greenpeace regards the announcement as good news, the organisation is very concerned that the government is still planning to expand coal mining in the general conservation estate, and elsewhere.

"The Government's plans to encourage an expansion in mining lignite coal, coupled with its proposed deepwater offshore oil drilling, are 19th century development strategies that are completely incompatible with the necessary critical action on climate change that we should be taking with the rest of the world. New coal mining and oil drilling should be ditched with the schedule 4 fiasco," says Boxer.

Greenpeace will continue to collect signatures on its petition launched last month opposing the expansion of coal and oil extraction.

Greenpeace says Gerry Brownlee should not be given new powers to jointly approve mines on public conservation land. "By his actions he has shown that he and his ministry have no understanding of the importance of New Zealand's outstanding natural areas," Boxer says.

Other contacts: Jay Harkness, Greenpeace NZ Communications and Media officer, on 021 495 216

Notes: (1) Cleantech New Zealand, Investment New Zealand, Feb 2010.