Hydrogen for decarbonisation, yeah right!

25/10/2019
MBIE H2 vision p41 figure

MBIE A Vision for Hydrogen in New Zealand, Sept 2019 (Figure 15)

Here’s what we think about MBIE’s A Vision for Hydrogen in New Zealand, what’s yours?

  1. We are extremely concerned about the overarching push for hydrogen. With our climate crisis, we need urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pressure on natural resources, to pull back from exceeding planetary boundaries. We also need to build societal resilience and adaptation to crises. We do not have the time or luxury for unproven technology and ‘Think Big’ projects.
  2. Given the urgency for real climate action, development of brown, grey and blue hydrogen cannot be a genuine or effective transition pathway, because of its reliance on fossil fuels and unproven carbon capture, use and storage. It prolongs fossil fuel exploration, mining and reliance.
  3. We ask that MBIE put forward a clear position and instigate legislation to prohibit any new brown, grey and blue hydrogen development.
  4. The narratives of ‘decarbonising industrial processes’ and ‘decarbonising gas supplies’ are misleading. Like fossil fuel-derived urea, ‘green urea’ made from green hydrogen will also release nitrous oxide when applied on farms, facilitate overstocking and fuel climate-damaging industrial agriculture. Blending hydrogen into the existing gas network is full of problems and again, prolongs fossil fuel reliance and status quo.
  5. Green hydrogen is extremely energy intensive to produce and store. Consideration of its development and application must first be thoroughly assessed and compared with all other energy options. The goal of any development needs to be resource conservation, security and resilience, and social wellbeing, not economic profits. Making green hydrogen for export does not make environmental, social or economic sense.

Our full submission can be downloaded here.


Press release: Taranaki Hydrogen roadmap smoke and mirrors

18/03/2019

NYTimes What is climate change cartoon 2015

Climate Justice Taranaki questions the environmental and economic arguments for the Taranaki Hydrogen Roadmap released on Friday.

“The roadmap is full of fanciful ideas and technologies that are unproven and still at the experimental or development stages. They are fine if we have lots of time, but we are in a climate emergency. With just 12 years left to turn things around, we need to act fast by upscaling proven renewable energy technologies, and investing in energy conservation and resilience,” said Catherine Cheung, spokesperson for Climate Justice Taranaki. Read the rest of this entry »


Media release: Just Transition plan not just or workable

11/02/2019

rule_one.jpgClimate Justice Taranaki is skeptical of public workshops beginning this week on a ‘Taranaki 2050 Roadmap’. The workshops continue the Tapuae Roa strategy and action plan recently written by the Ministry for Business Inovation and Enterprise (MBIE), the four councils and business heads with only some iwi input.

“The idea of this just transition plan sounds great but in reality it’s the same old profit-driven, environmentally and socially destructive global capitalist model. This is the exact model that in only a few generations brought us to the crisis we now face. What’s more, the community is only getting a say once they already agreed on the core of the plan and the workshops are being held during work hours when most people can’t participate. It’s unworkable and unjust.” says spokesperson Emily Bailey for Climate Justice Taranaki.

“The problem with the plan is the focus remains on growing the economy and increasing international shipping and tourism. There is still a complete lack of understanding that economic growth typically comes from social and environmental degradation. It is highly unlikely alternatives to the huge energy-guzzling ships and numerous planes we now use will come online by 2050. Importing and exporting goods is also incredibly wasteful and shifts profit from the poor producers to the rich traders. Remaining reliant on this market model leads us blindly to a collapse of global dairy markets and international tourism – this country’s two largest earners.”

“Our current gas fields are quickly running out and we less than 12 years left to turn the tide on climate change. More efficient use of gas such as the new H2 project is just too little too late and still too polluting given the massive CO2 emissions when burnt, fugitive methane emissions from numerous leaks and nitrous oxide emissions from the urea fertiliser they want to make – not to mention the burping cows. When you calculate methane not in a 100 year cycle but in a 20 year cycle like we do for CO2, it is actually 84 times worse than CO2. Nitrous oxide is 300 times worse.”

“Millions of public money should not have been given to “high risk” energy development projects for big business. It should be supporting thousands of small-scale, diverse and sustainable local projects run by communities who know what needs to be done. Just transition economies exist but the government has chosen to put our country’s future in the hands of those who created the mess we are in: profiteers.”

“We have to face the fact that a just transition involves much more than phasing out fossil fuels. A just transition must address the fact that all natural resources and ecosystems are on the brink of collapse due to our modern take, use and trash lifestyles. We need to shift our economic focus to the local community level. We need to rehabilitate native ecosystems such as fisheries and decentralise and connect communities with diverse farms and workshops that provide food and other products for locals. This is just transition. Our current trajectory is extinction and the only alternative is rebellion to the status quo.” concludes Bailey.

As Naomi Klein said “the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe — and would benefit the vast majority — are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”

Cartoon source: https://www.theselc.org/building_just_transition_with_a_pcec

Media coverage:

Phony transition claim as Taranaki looks to the future (Waatea News, 14/02/2019)

Taranaki transition: ‘There will be new forms of energy’ (RNZ, 15/02/2019)

Taranaki plots course to low emissions economy (RNZ, 15/02/2019)


Press release: Sustainable hydrogen or oxymoron?

21/11/2018

Yesterday, 150 scientists and researchers made this stark warning: A disastrous future for humanity if we continue our current path of “rampant consumerism and endless economic growth”. In an open letter, they demand that the government “meets its duty to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come.”

So on the same day when Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones spoke of a potential, “monumental” one billion dollar project that would “create hydrogen and create an output of urea” it leaves you wondering what exactly the government thinks cutting emissions by half really means.

“There’s a saying: ‘rolling a turd in glitter’ and that’s exactly what Shane Jones is offering” says Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Emily Bailey. “This second round of unsustainable Think Big technology is not proven and even if it was it will be ridiculously expensive and still require fracked gas that is estimated to run out in ten years time. Who in their right mind would invest in such a project?”.

The project has been touted by the US based 8 Rivers Capital LLC. According to their website, the company has developed technology to generate power from fossil fuels, apparently without air emissions, the only by-products being ‘water’ and “pipeline-ready” or “carbon capture-ready” carbon dioxide.

“Based on our research, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has not been effective or economically viable anywhere, despite decades of talks and trials. One project in the US captures about one tenth of the CO2 emitted from a coal-fired power station and pipes it 80 miles to an oil field to be injected into old wells to produce more oil. The term ‘clean coal’ is simply oxymoron – how can one say CCS is clean or sustainable when it fuels yet more fossil fuel mining?”

“To use the waste to produce more urea for industrial farming is also ludicrous given it is one of the planet’s worst greenhouse gas emitting chemicals and a serious soil and waterway pollutant. It’d be a monumentally disastrous project, one that would take us to a disastrous future – climate breakdown. We do not accept ‘blue hydrogen’ made from fossil fuels involving carbon capture and storage as clean either – it is yet another oxymoron.”

“Never before have our prominent scientists united and spoke against consumerism and economic growth so loudly, we have got to listen and ask ourselves what sort of a future we want? Taranaki was much better off before big oil and gas brought centralised milk production stations, synthetic fertiliser and trucks, ships, mechanisation and megadebts to farming. The younger generations are already firing ahead with community-scale regenerative and urban farming projects that offer far better quality of life for workers and massively reduce emissions, waste and pollution. Alongside renewable energy and energy efficient infrastructure this just makes sense.”

“There is a huge push from society for real solutions, just look at the massive protests in London this week and the numerous petitions pushing for going plastic-free and banning urea, deep-sea oil and fracking. More of the same gives us more of the same. It’s time to focus on existing, proven sustainable projects rather than expensive, massively flawed pies in the sky” said Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki.

Cartoon: https://www.chemistryworld.com/opinion/the-carbon-capture-challenge/9069.article

Media coverage: Environmentalist critical of Taranaki’s proposed $1b hydrogen project, TDN 23/11/2018