Fonterra’s coal use under the spotlight at Mystery Creek

14 Jun

Media release from Auckland Coal Action 14 June 2015

Mystery Creek field day visitors were yesterday greeted with leaflets advertising that Fonterra is about to get out of using coal to dry its milk powder.

Members of Auckland Coal Action handed out nearly 2000 fliers to Mystery Creek visitors yesterday, fliers that announced Fonterra was getting out of coal and switching to the “fuel of the future” – woodchips – instead, and had small bags of woodchips attached.   They invited people to ask Fonterra about their fuel for drying milk powder.

Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said ” If New Zealand is to do its fair share on climate change, Fonterra just has to stop burning coal. We wanted people interested in farming to see that there is an alternative. For two years we’ve been trying to have a conversation with Fonterra to get away from coal – and they’re not listening, so today we thought we’d try another way of starting that conversation.”

Fonterra uses more than half a million tonnes of coal a year to dry milk powder, and this total is growing as it builds new plants. At the same time NZ farmers are being devastated by severe droughts yet climate change has only just started to make itself felt.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our farming future, medium and long term” said Fitzsimons.

Residues left on forest landing sites after harvesting trees can be chipped and partly dried and used as boiler fuel. There are companies willing to do this and it happens on a smaller scale – for example at Otago University and some schools. There are companies that will source, collect, process and deliver to markets. We know Fonterra has been in touch with them but nothing has happened because coal is so cheap.

Coal is the biggest contributor to climate change, worldwide. “Coal is cheap because it doesn’t have to pay for the environmental and health damage it does” said Fitzsimons. “It is effectively subsidised by the environment, and in the end by all of us”.

“Meanwhile New Zealand’s domestic coal use is being driven by Fonterra, which has signed huge contracts with Bathurst Resources, and Solid Energy.”

Fonterra was sufficiently worried about its reputation that Security Services and police were called to remove the leafleters, not just from the Fielddays site, but from the public roads surrounding it.

Auckland Coal Action is committed to phasing out coal to protect the climate, in a way that allows workers and communities to develop alternative forms of economic development. It has never advocated for the closure of any existing mine.

Contact: Jeanette Fitzsimons Auckland Coal Action 07 868 6641

 

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