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NZ: Energy report: right direction but hurry up

The Green Party is enthusiastically welcoming the intent and content of the Government's Sustainable Energy report, but says it still lacks a sense of urgency.

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson today released 'Sustainable Energy: Creating a Sustainable Energy System for New Zealand', a discussion document leading to a six-month consultation process. "The Greens welcome 'Sustainable Energy' because it is by far the best analysis of the energy issues and challenges facing New Zealand that any Government has ever produced," said Jeanette Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Co-Leader and Energy Spokesperson.

"But it does not convey the sense of urgency that is needed if New Zealand is to make a relatively smooth transition to a sustainable energy future.

"A key example is Peak Oil. Both the Minister's introduction and the 'Energy Tomorrow' section acknowledge that global oil production is going to peak in the foreseeable future and that the cheap supply of oil will cease at that point.

"Yet it still appears to accept oil price forecasts that many experts think are way too optimistic. Treasury is still saying prices will soon fall to $19 a barrel; the Ministry of Economic Development is saying they may have to revise their forecast up to $30. But the world oil price is currently $54 - what if it never falls again?

"The International Energy Agency's mid-range prediction that cheap oil will end near the middle of this century is accepted as the likely scenario, which will comfort most people. The contrary forecast that Peak Oil will happen as soon in 2010 is described as "extreme", but there is growing support for this view among geological and market experts, with some even bringing it forward to 2006.

"So this document should be asking 'what if?' What if oil peaks in the next decade? What if the next international climate change round imposes much tougher limits on carbon emissions? What if we don't find enough natural gas to replace the depleted Maui fields? There are no such scenarios here for people to react to and discuss. It would have been helpful to ask some key questions to help focus responses.

"But overall this is a huge and useful step forward that we see as having a lot of value. The Green Party is encouraging people to get involved in the energy discussion and will continue working to inject a sense of urgency and action into the debate," said Ms Fitzsimons.

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