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Yes/no answer to question on fossil fuels?

  • October 26th, 2008
People often say they will vote for candidates who give simple yes/no answers and promises. The following exchange [edited down] was typical:
"I would like an MP who will support green energy choices. Would you ever vote in favour of further fossil fuel development? If you can assure me that your answer will be "no" then I will vote for you.  [Is] the National position ‘that renewable energy is in favour but not at the expense of the economy’ effectively saying that fossil fuels will continue to develop?"
"Though I would love to be able to give you that assurance I am straightforward. ‘No’ would be a lie from any party.
There are circumstances in which all parties will support further fossil fuel development, whatever they say now.
For example, no party unequivocally opposes oil exploration. Oil extraction often produces gas, unavoidably. Appallingly this gas is commonly flared (burned at the wellhead) because it is less valuable than the oil. NZ Oil and Gas is doing this with its current major find, while they negotiate to pipe it ashore for burning in a power station instead. No sane person would oppose ensuring generation capacity to avoid wasteful flaring.
Equally, if we are to increase our reliance on wind and even solar, paradoxically we will need more quick response back-up. Gas turbines are the common back-up around the world.
Some power saving schemes can increase fluctuations in demand, if the easiest saving is at existing times of low demand.
So we might find there will be some new efficient thermal generation as part of a package designed to reduce overall thermal generation (like replacement for Huntly Coal).
Here in NZ we should be able to use hydro as back-up, but we have comparatively little hydro storage. Most of our hydro relies on water coming in to the dams almost as fast as it goes out. So again there will be a choice – different kinds of dams and more shorelines of lakes that go up and down, or using thermal.
It is different for non-democracies but any durable environmental policy must retain public support. As a democracy our people will simply not tolerate a government that would allow industry to go offshore (often to countries where the production could be less carbon efficient than here – thus a net carbon detriment for the globe) if the result is relative impoverishment. Accordingly any energy plan that will eventually have us on renewable must have a transition that keeps us in the ranks of the countries rich enough to afford the new technologies.
Our current Kyoto quandary is a good example of allowing slogan thinking to rule a few years ago. We are about to pay up to $1bn in Kyoto penalties because our emissions have risen (faster then George Bush’s USA – to our shame). The main cause has been Labour dithering for years before assuring our would-be forest planters and owners that they would not be robbed. The net beneficiaries of our Kyoto penalties could be Russian oligarchs who happen to have forests they say they are protecting.
That money would have had far more carbon reduction effect if it had been applied to a couple of hydro or wind or tide projects here, but our eagerness to sign up all those years ago has left us spiking our own ability to help the planet, and left the Aussies and others who were more shrewd, with the freedom to apply their money to actually reducing their emissions.
I commit  to  apply my heart and mind to what will actually happen out of legislation that comes before me, rather than judge it by the simple claims and slogans of the well-meaning people who promote the bills.
A good example to me of a tragic commitment to a slogan solution has been the green vote for bio-fuels. They may genuinely believe in their stipulation that our imports of bio diesel come only from sustainable sources. In practice as there is a global market. What we buy from such sources will simply push up the global price, thus increasing the current iniquitous conversion of corn to fuel in much the same way as if we had been buying converted wheat ourselves."
I’m glad to say that this questioner was satisfied, this time.


  • peterquixote
  • October 26th, 2008
  • 8:43 pm

So why didn’t you tell them that NZ needs nuclear power Stephen, lets stop the shagging around,
MAORI will win because NAT is a bunch
of losers,
ten years of collapsing economy from Helengrand socialist war in NZ,
read here friends
send your currenncy to AUS on tuesday morning.

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