Media Release: Oil and Gas – an Innovative and Ethical Industry?

FROM: Climate Justice Taranaki

“As the oil and gas CEOs suit up in New Plymouth this week for their ENEX conference, we ask just how much social discontent and safety concerns would it take for the industry and our governments to halt this mad rush for fossil fuels?” says Catherine Cheung,  Climate Justice Taranaki researcher.

“As Mayor Harry Duynhoven welcomes delegates, stating ‘record levels of onshore and offshore exploration … a landscape of much potential … spirit of innovation …’, we ask just how much more does the industry want to exploit and pollute our land, water and air?  How innovative exactly is dumping toxic drilling wastes on farmland where cows will graze?  Is it safe? Is it ethical?”

Since humans started burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas on a large scale, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have dramatically increased from 280 ppm to 400 ppm. The last time this happened was 3-5 million years ago and global temperatures “reached 3-4 degrees C higher than today’s and as much as 10 degrees C warmer at the poles. Sea level ranged between 5 and 40 meters higher than today,” according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

While CO2 absorption and release have always varied through natural processes, all credible scientific organizations agree that the recent steep rise in CO2 levels is primarily caused by humans burning fossil fuels.

As Prof. James Hansen, earth and environmental scientist of Columbia University reminds us, “Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. It would be immoral to leave young people with a climate system spiraling out of control.”

“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” says Bill McKibben, renowned author and environmentalist.

“The solutions – reducing energy consumption, energy efficiency and renewable energy – are here. But they are being sidelined by our governments and of course, the oil and gas industry – they want to stay rich at the expense of our planet and those who live close to the land and sea. It is the farmers, fisherfolk, the poor and future generations who will suffer the most from the effects of climate change.

There is a groundswell of public awakening and discontent about the havoc that the industry is causing, mostly on safety and cultural grounds. It is increasingly apparent that drilling companies do not have a social licence to operate in Taranaki and elsewhere in the country. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) recognised this when she stated that “a ‘social licence’ for fracking has yet to be earned” in her report last year.

Climate Justice Taranaki urges everyone to take a stand, speak out, write to the PCE, the central government, regional and district councils and energy companies, tell them that we don’t want to continue down this path, demand an immediate stop to further fossil fuel exploration and support for a sustainable energy future instead,” concludes Cheung.

Sources:

http://www.conferenz.co.nz/conferences/enex-new-zealands-oil-gas-event

http://www.pce.parliament.nz/assets/Uploads/Fracking-interim-web.pdf

http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/what-does-400-ppm-look-like/

Media coverage:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/8761366/Activists-take-stand-against-oil-industry (TDN, 6 Jun)

http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/opinion/8762242/Oil-industry-must-react-to-closer-scrutiny (TDN, 6 Jun)

http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/8767508/Greens-accused-of-undermining-oil-dairy-sectors (TDN, 7 Jun)

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