Climate activists shut down coal mine in protest against Fonterra

23 Nov, 2009 02:25 PM
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Greenpeace activists have shut down a pit of a New Zealand lignite coalmine used by Fonterra to help fuel operations at its nearby Edendale dairy factory, labeling it a Fonterra climate crime.

The activity at the New Vale mine, near Gore, comes two months after Greenpeace highlighted Fonterra’s role in rainforest destruction by using palm kernel based animal feed.

Lignite coal from the mine is used to power four milk dehydrators at Edendale, the world’s largest milk processing plant. In September a new dehydrator was commissioned increasing Edendale’s lignite coal consumption by 60 per cent and Fonterra’s overall coal use by 17 per cent.

Lignite coal is one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. In the coming year Edendale will burn 179,000 tonnes of lignite which contributes to the release of over 250,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is the same as the emissions from more than 87,000 cars in one year.

At dawn on November 17, activists unfurled a massive 40 by 40 metre banner reading 'Fonterra Climate Crime' on the ground of the opencast mine. Other activists blocked one of the entrances and locked themselves to some of the excavating machinery.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Simon Boxer said just weeks out from the Copenhagen international climate talks Fonterra remained the biggest block to New Zealand doing its bit on climate change.

"The Government needs to bring Fonterra under control. Fonterra always goes for the cheapest alternative like dirty lignite coal for energy or unsustainable palm kernel, grown at the expense of Indonesian rainforests, for animal feed. This is being driven by its intensification of dairying in New Zealand. It would be in Fonterra and New Zealand’s interests to preserve the land and our clean green brand."

By being exempt from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), until 2015, agricultural greenhouse gas emitters are currently receiving a $1.1 billion subsidy from taxpayers.

"This is a direct subsidy that will allow Fonterra to continue to increase its greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of the taxpayer.Boxer said Fonterra was putting profit before the climate.

"Fonterra should take responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It could start by changing to alternative fuels, stop imports of palm kernel animal feed and encouraging lower intensity farming practices to provide a secure base for our industry, our economy and our environment."

Fonterra processes milk from 95 per cent of New Zealand dairy farmers and had made a deliberate choice to power its milk dehydrators using carbon emitting fossil fuels.

"In its submissions to the Electricity Market Review, Fonterra criticised renewable energy resources, advocating instead for expanding coal use. Now the Government is looking at changing the rules to allow mining of conservation land."

Fonterra is one of the biggest coal users in New Zealand with eight of its milk processing plants burning approximately 450,000 tonnes per year.

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READER COMMENTS

Peter
24/11/2009 12:04:16 AM, on Stock & Land

There's only so many years you can "milk" the planet until it gets real angry.
What bollocks
24/11/2009 9:15:14 AM, on Stock & Land

I support ag being exempt from an ETS but how the hell does this constitute being exempt? This is value adding, once it leaves the farmgate or is dead that exemption should not apply otherwise there is no incentive to reduce emissions. This risks becoming a lever that turns support away from ag being exempt.
Wig
24/11/2009 2:48:02 PM, on Stock & Land

Fonterra do a lot of work behind the scenes environmentally, I'd wish they'd convey that. Wish Greenpeace would get off the palm kernel bandwagon. It's a tri-product & basically waste. Palm oil (the orginal product) is used in everything including soap but I bet few at Greenpeace realise that.
Jack
29/11/2009 7:07:54 AM, on Stock & Land

Palm oil is actually being driven by European countries trying to produce biofuel. 95% of palm kernal is burnt as a waste product, of the 5% sold as palm kernal NZ uses 12%. Palm growers receive $60/tonne for the kernal waste, compared to the $2000/tonne for the oil used in biofuel. Greenpeace are trying to hide their own folly in lack of control what constitutes biofuel. Re energy use, what should they use instead, damming more rivers is prohibited and nuclear is not allowed. Solar and Wind is not reliable. Fonterra is easy to pick on as other countries would love to stop Fonterra being such a large global player out of the market. I presume that those coal plants have the regulated air cleaners attached to make it less dirty. I guess they could be as green as other countries and make biofuel out of Palm Oil(being sarcastic). How about greenpeace show us some viable solutions to problems.

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COMMENTS

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Oh Bush Basher Bill, you are so knowledgeable and so self-righteous - would you care to set out
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Rearview, my claims are plagiarised, go to criticisms of FRB at the Ludwig Von Mises institute
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Does this mean you don't bother talking to yourself in the mirror any more, Bill?