John Key’s support for lignite madness will be his true legacy

Press release - June 3, 2011
Auckland June 3 2011: In response to reported statements made by yesterday by Prime Minister John Key, Greenpeace New Zealand has condemned his support for digging up Southland’s lignite deposits as reckless, short-sighted and dangerous to our economy.

The state-owned company, Solid Energy, is planning to extract up to six billion tonnes of lignite to convert into briquettes, diesel, and urea fertiliser. Digging up Southland’s lignite coal deposits would add a total of six billion tonnes to our carbon footprint.

“The Prime Minister’s support for such a climate-wrecking project shows a woeful lack of leadership and foresight in a world that is moving away from its dependence on dirty fossil fuels. There is a huge risk that New Zealand’s clean green reputation will be shattered,” says Simon Boxer, Greenpeace NZ Senior Climate Campaigner.

“In his comments, John Key has stretched beyond breaking point the myth that the interests of the environment can be ‘balanced’ with those of the economy – in a world in which the climate change is already underway, digging up lignite coal is a criminal act,” say Boxer.

John Key’s speech comes less than two weeks after the world’s foremost climate scientist, Nasa’s Dr James Hansen, wrote to the Prime Minister in which he stated that “New Zealand should leave the massive deposits of lignite coal in the ground, instead developing its natural bounty of renewable energies and energy efficiency”.

Hansen has previously described coal as the “single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet”. Lignite, or Brown Coal, is the dirtiest coal there is, in terms of carbon emissions.

“By increasing our dependence on the exploitation of fossil fuels, this project will lock New Zealand into a high carbon economy, which will require massive taxpayer subsidies, and undermine our future prosperity,” Boxer says.

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For more information, or to interview Simon Boxer, call Jay Harkness, Greeenpeace Media and Communications, on 021 495 216.