Jeanette Fitzsimons Virtual Memorial

11 Jul


2 Aug

The recent announcement that Fonterra might convert from coal to gas is definitely not a move in the right direction. It may in fact be worse than coal.

The burning of what is largely methane, in energy terms, produces about half the CO2 of coal and this fact is used to suggest that the switch to natural gas constitutes a reduction in emissions, but this comparison conveniently ignores the leakage of methane during the extraction, processing and transport. The industry often suggest rates of less than 1% … However a 1% leakage of methane with a GHGe impact some 80 times that of CO2 (over a 20 year period) one can readily verify that the “well-to-wheel” impacts of using gas are worse than that of using coal in global warming effects.

More recent research puts the leakage rates at between 4-9%, so considerably worse than the Industry estimates. The evidence is that fracking in the US in particular has greatly accelerated GHG emissions and this global temperature rises are accelerating as a result of this industry shift.

All of the methane ultimately over time becomes CO2… 1 tonne of methane (CH4) results in approx three tonnes of CO2 … four Hydrogen each with molecular weight 1 is replaced by two Oxygen each with molecular weight 16, Carbon having a molecular weight of 14.

Leakage of natural gas from a single event hit an all time record in 2015 with the Aliso Canyon leak in Californian and requiring the evacuation of thousands.

But there are many other significant leakage which are arguably a result of the the oil and gas industry “However NASA researchers concluded in 2016 that oil and gas production and distribution activities were principally responsible for the methane releases”

The idea that gasses may be safely sequestered into underground natural geological structures is in serious question… as is the suggestion CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) is at all possible or practical, energy costs aside.

It is for such reasons that our attention to Huntly should address not just coal but indeed Genesis’ move to gas… Meeting industrial heat requirements will be challenging for companies like Fonterra, but there is absolutely no excuse for the electricity industry not to embrace wind and solar, both capable of undercutting coal and gas cost in the generation of electricity. Storage options are available and proven, albeit at a price.

Should they be converting to electric or wood chips rather than gas?”

It should be thermal solar, augmented by PV solar and wind with suitable energy storage (zeolite looks interesting as a lossless store for heat energy). I don’t believe any sort of burning or combustion process is appropriate.. Its a moot point as to whether wood chips are any more sustainable, than coal, oil or gas. Have just watched a DW video exposing how the FSC accreditation of wood product has been seriously subverted by the timber industry… same sort of dishonesty that pervades the fossil fuel industry.


31 Jul


Fonterra moving in right direction.

25 Jul

Fonterra moving in right direction, but much faster action needed

Fonterra’s recent announcement that it will be installing no new coal boilers from now on is a significant step in the right direction, but does not result in any immediate reduction in coal use. Coal boilers can have a life of more than 30 years, so phasing out of coal by this step alone would be far too slow. Much faster action is needed by Fonterra to reduce its emissions.

The recent IPCC report (Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C, October 2019) says that emissions need to fall globally by around 45% below 2010 figures by 2030, but it also says that coal emissions need to fall by around 67% by that date. As a developed country with the necessary expertise and resources, we should be aiming considerably higher than this. A complete phase-out of coal by 2030, or even by 2025, needs to be seriously considered.

Fonterra has other options. For example, a lot of off-cuts from forestry that could be used to power boilers currently go to waste. Trees and other biomass can also be specifically grown to supply fuel. This is an environmentally sustainable way of operating provided there is re-planting as the energy sources are used.

Natural gas is not a good alternative because use of this fossil fuel also needs to rapidly fall. But from an environmental point of view, moving to electricity is a good option because around 80% of the energy currently comes from renewable resources and we have the potential to increase this rapidly towards 100%, if the right steps are taken.

One reason coal and other fossil fuels are still widely used is that they appear to be low cost options. But this doesn’t factor in the cost of the damage caused. The recent IPCC report estimates the damage cost at above US$100 per tonne of CO2 (about NZ$150 / tonne CO2). New Zealand’s Productivity Commission has already concluded that we should price emissions to reflect their harm (Low Emissions Economy, final report, August 2018). Hence, we believe New Zealand’s carbon charges need to rapidly rise to at least this level. It would be prudent for Fonterra to plan on this basis.

So, in summary, it is good that Fonterra has taken this step, but it also needs to immediately start making major reductions in its coal use.


Fonterra reduces reliance on coal ahead of plan.

18 Jul


15 May


Cows Join Protest

11 May

Friday 10/5/2019  

A couple of cow costumes livened up the journey home for commuters passing Fonterra’s Head Quarters in Fanshawe St this afternoon. Auckland Climate Action was joined by two supporters dressed in fashionable colour-ways, the dramatic black and white Friesian, and the reliable beige and brown Jersey, dairy cow costumesas once again around 20 members and friends of ACAturned out to send a message to our biggest dairy company – that THERE IS NO PLACE IN TODAY’S CLIMATE-ENDANGERED WORLD FOR AN INDUSTRY THAT STILL BURNS COAL. 


By now everyone knows the atmosphere is overheating and the climate IS changing. That this directly endangers the dairy industry is well understood by all farmers. But this same dairy industry is by now right up there with New Zealand Steel in its level of coal consumption  and is using sub-bituminous coal as fuel for its factory boilers, which is more pollutant than the high-qualitycoal necessary to manufacture steel. This is not a record to be proud of. Fonterra could, and should, at least be trialling alternative methods of production including burning the forestry industry’s wood waste (which is plentiful in the north Waikato area) as a renewablealternative to local coal. Using Electricity to heat the boilers is another alternative which other dairy companies are looking at.  We call on Fonterra to please, get their act together and show some sense of responsibility towards the future generations whose only home is this lovely planet called Earth.


11 May from RNZ.

Fonterra Must Rapidly Quit Coal

10 May

Press Release

Fonterra, New Zealand’s second largest coal user, has said its goals are to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 and to install no new coal boilers from that date. But the IPCCreport, released last October, shows that this rate of action is disastrously slow, according to Auckland Climate Action spokesperson, Peter Whitmore.

“The report says that to hold global warming to under 1.5 °C, coal emissions must be reduced world-wide by around 67% by 2030. To make this possible, developed countries, and industries like Fonterra that have other clearly available sustainable energy options, realistically need to be right out of coal by this date.”

Whitmore says that although the need for action has now been clear for decades, Fonterra’s manufacturing-related emissions, as shown in their recently released 2018 Sustainability Report, have still not yet started to fall. “The report shows that Fonterra is currently emitting over 800,000 tonnes of CO2 a year from coal usealone, which at an indicative damage figure of $150 a tonneamounts to over $120 million dollars of damage”, says Whitmore.

While their very recent move at one of their smallest plants to start co-firing with coal and wood biomass, and their announced plans to move another small plant from coal to electricity, are little steps in the right direction, they are way too slow.

Because of lack of global action, the world is now facing acatastrophic climate crisis, says Whitmore. To play its part in preserving a livable planet for mankind and other species, Fonterra needs to be right out of coal by 2030, and preferably by 2025. This requires a quantum leap in how they respond to the issue. Fonterra needs to take major action to address this, starting right now.”

 Members of Auckland Climate Action and other local groups plan to hold a protest outside Fonterra’s head office at 109 Fanshawe St (corner of Fanshawe and Halsey Streets, opposite Victoria Park, Auckland), from 3pm on Friday 10 May 2019, calling for Fonterra to immediately start taking much more rapid action to reduce its emissions.


Peter Whitmore

Auckland Coal Action

021 457 465

Ghost of Christmas future visits Fonterra

7 Dec

Auckland Coal Action demonstrated outside Fonterra’s head office in Auckland yesterday against the company’s continued reliance on coal-fired boilers at its dairy factories around the country. The protest caught the eye of passers-by, many stopping to take photos of Fonterra’s “climate ambassador”.

Fonterra, New Zealand’s second largest coal user, claims it will quit coal, but its progress to date is much to slow.  Its current targets of “no new coal boilers installed from 2030”, and a 30% emissions reduction by that date, are way too slow to protect us from the serious consequences of climate change.

Auckland Coal Action calls on Fonterra to make these commitments:

  • No new coal-fired equipment to be installed.
  • Existing coal-fired boilers to be steadily phased out and replaced with alternatives using sustainable fuels.
  • IPCC target of 67% reduction in coal emissions by 2030 to be adopted and complied with.

We need action starting right now, not in 2030.