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Fonterra says it will quit coal, but when?

24 May

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Fonterra Sustainability Effort is “Pants”

1 Dec

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Fonterra’s greenwash exposed by Auckland Coal Action protest 
Auckland Coal Action members did street theatre today outside Fonterra’s Fanshawe St headquarters in protest against Fonterra’s increasing coal use in their factories. Fonterra now burns more coal than Huntly Power Station.The group says Fonterra’s claims of sustainability are greenwash. To illustrate this they painted “Fonterra Stop the Greenwash” on a giant pair of bloomers.

Fonterra relies heavily on coal in its dairy factories, despite the very high greenhouse gas emissions this fuel produces.

“Scientists are now saying that coal has to be phased out as early as 2030, and that no new coal-fired power plant should be built – from today,” said Geoff Mason of Auckland Coal Action.

“This should include Fonterra, a company that claims it’s committed to reducind its emissions and protecting the environment, yet its coal use has increased by around 38% since 2008, making it now New Zealand’s second largest coal user.”

Fonterra is  planning to building more coal-fired dairy factories, and a new coal mine has been opened in the Waikato to help meet the company’s ongoing coal demand.

He noted there was enough wood waste from forestry operations in New Zealand to power many of Fonterra’s factories. This fuel is now commonly used in Europe and Canada to fuel industrial boilers. It is almost carbon-neutral because re-planted trees absorb the CO2 produced. Fonterra also has other sustainable alternatives.

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Activists carry out Waikato coal mine inspection, leave climate message

26 Jun

Press release – Sunday 26 June 2016

A group of eight activists from Auckland Coal Action, many of them grandparents, today carried out an inspection of Solid Energy’s Kopako 1 coal mine in the Waikato to protest its redevelopment, and left a climate change message for the company.

The mine, near Maramarua, in North East Waikato, has been dormant since the 1990’s, but Solid Energy has now begun work to revive it.  The team confirmed after walking into the site today that not only has overburden been removed, but coal mining from a seam has begun.

“Solid Energy is undertaking extensive development of this old coal mine, despite having no customers for the coal, and the international industry being in terminal decline,” said one of the activists, Geoff Mason of Auckland Coal Action.

“Meanwhile, the Government has signed the Paris Agreement which means that we have to get out of coal by 2050, globally, which means coal like this has to stay in the ground.

The team walked into the mine site, and spent around an hour at the coalface, wrapping a excavator in “climate crime scene” tape confirming that new mining has removed the overburden and is now digging up coal. They deployed signs and banners, before leaving again.

Among the activists who inspected the mine today was Phil, a great grandparent.

“I am seriously concerned about a climate changed future for my five great grandchildren – this is why I am here today, to tell Solid Energy and the Government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and keep the coal in the hole,” she said.

Auckland Coal Action is also concerned that one of the potential customers for the mine could be Fonterra, the country’s second-largest user of coal.  Fonterra was planning to open its own coal mine at nearby Mangatawhiri, but has put those plans on permanent hold.

“Solid Energy might be eyeing Fonterra as a potential customer, but Fonterra should be looking at changing its energy source to renewable wood and biomass rather than coal,” said Geoff Mason.

“What is clear is that this mine should be kept out of commission – for the climate, for the local environment and for our future.”

Photos of the day in this post.

 

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

 

Your days of burning coal are numbered few

14 Jun

A tongue-in-cheek poem inspired by yesterday’s action.

The plucky band of offbeats stand before
the wondrous fair that farmers are drawn to,
to tell Fonterra – ever seeking more,
their days of burning coal are numbered few.
Not shamed enough by countless herds of cows
which munch grass, ruminate, and belch methane;
the bosses tally dollars, and welsh on vows
to ease the burden of our climate’s pain.
In step the plucky offbeats bearing fliers,
to tell the masses ’bout Fonterra true,
to play the role of yesteryears’ town criers,
since mainstream media stories give no clue.
Or maybe really play the role of jester,
instead of letting unkept promise fester
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Exciting announcement from Fonterra at Field Days

13 Jun

Happening now: Visitors to the Mystery Creek Fielddays are being greeted today with 2,000 fliers announcing Fonterra’s plan to convert all its coal fired boilers to run on “fuel for the future” – wood chip. The material is waste from forestry operations and there are huge quantities in NZ forests which can be harvested, dried and chipped creating hundreds of jobs. Each flier is attached to a small bag of wood chip.

If New Zealand is to do its fair share on climate Fonterra must stop burning coal, the biggest contributor to climate change. Auckland Coal Action has been trying to have a conversation with Fonterra about cleaning up its boilers but so far they are not listening. We hope Fielddays visitors will have that conversation too, at the Fonterra tent.

Watch this site for developments during the day!

Fonterra fuel for the future

Waikato Regional Council approves new Fonterra coal mine at Mangatawhiri

17 Oct
From Jeanette Fitzsimons for Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA):
The hearings panel has just issued its consent for Fonterra’s proposed coal mine at Mangatawhiri, south of Auckland. http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Services/Regional-services/Consents/Resource-consents/Significant-applications-hearings-and-decisions/Mangatangi-Mine/
It hinged on finding that the adverse effects the residents were concerned about – heath and quality of life impacts from dust, noise, water abstraction and discharge, destruction of landscape values and traffic,  would be minor. The residents, of course, disagree but Fonterra could afford lots of expensive expert witnesses to say everything could be mitigated satisfactorily, and these were given more weight than the residents’ concerns. That’s how the RMA works.
The residents living closest to the pit generally submitted in favour of the mine after reaching an “arrangement” with Fonterra. This meant the effects on them did not have to be considered, and made it possible to conclude that the effects would be minor. Too bad if those properties change hands during the life of the mine.
The panel acknowledged CANA’s expert submission from John Gifford showing that wood waste was available that could substitute for coal in their milk drying plants, making the mine unnecessary. However they decided they didn’t need to consider this further because the mine would do so little harm they didn’t need to think about alternatives.
The elephant attended throughout the first week, drawing attention to the legal prohibition on arguing what really matters – the contribution of the mine to climate change.
While we didn’t stop the consent, CANA believes the effort was well worth while as thanks to the help of John Gifford we now have a well researched piece of work that has not been challenged showing the feasibility of wood waste as an alternative to coal. Fonterra’s evidence showed that they have already done some work on alternative fuels and we are confident that faced with this evidence, they will eventually have to continue down this path.