Conservation Land and Emissions
Is coal the intended target?
Emissions from mining generally (gold, aggregates, REE, iron sand etc) are no higher than many other economic activities and like any other economic activity are impacted by existing climate change policies.
Coal is only one of many minerals mined on conservation land. It is different in that it produces emissions when it is burned (not when it is mined) and it is a fuel with high emissions intensity.
As with fossil fuels generally, government action to reduce emissions is targeting producers more than users. Users of coal have signaled that if they can’t access New Zealand coal they will need to import it. Penalising producers, as the conservation land ban does, is not a solution.
Without coking coal, there will be no steel
Coking coal is mined and exported to make steel and this demand will continue until new technology provides an alternative – perhaps during the next few decades. Also, exports are not added to New Zealand’s emissions account.
Thermal coal underpins other industries and energy security
Thermal coal has an important role in maintaining the international competitiveness of our agriculture sector – dairy in particular – and in domestic food production. This will change as technology advances allow and as competitors take on the cost of reducing emissions.
As a back up to renewable sources, coal also plays an essential role in providing energy security in New Zealand during our many severe weather events. Lightning strikes can halt gas processing and gale-force winds, or no wind, can reduce wind farm output, leaving coal-fired generation to meet temporary needs.
Straterra acknowledges the global imperative of reducing carbon emissions and the actions taken by New Zealand in concert with the rest of the world. However, ending coal mining in New Zealand will not reduce New Zealand or global demand for coal nor help achieve emission reductions internationally. In fact, competing countries typically have lower environmental standards and less regulatory oversight than New Zealand so environmental impacts could worsen as production moves to other countries. This also applies to coal we would need to import for energy intensive business in New Zealand.
The 8 arguments against the ban (click each argument to see more detail).