Fonterra’s announcement to build no new coal boilers a win for the climate movement
Fonterra’s use of coal has been the target of numerous grassroots campaigns in recent years. Last year 350 Aotearoa affiliated groups, Fossil Free Aoraki and 350 Nelson Tasman launched a petition dismissing the dairy giant’s initial target of no new coal boilers after 2030. The groups pointed out that the former policy was “too late” for the planet’s climate system, stating the lifetime of coal boilers can be up to 40 years, which means coal could still be in use until 2070.
Today’s announcement from Fonterra to build no new coal boilers indicates a shift towards a zero-carbon economy that is needed to address the climate crisis and to meet New Zealand’s commitment to reducing its emissions.
Fossil Free Aoraki spokesperson Selina Clare said “While Fonterra’s commitment to no new coal boilers is a vital step in the right direction, the co-operative is still far from being a climate leader in Aotearoa. Its current use makes Fonterra New Zealand’s second-biggest user of coal. Fonterra needs to extend its commitments by rapidly phasing out its use of fossil fuels in all stages of production.”
The groups’ campaign included a satirical ‘Coalterra: dairy for death’ advertisement in which a couple promoting ‘fresh New Zealand milk’ quarrel over the moral implications of burning coal for milk powder. The video drew attention to the ‘half-a-million tonnes of coal’ Fonterra burns every year in the production of milk powder.
“It is particularly important that Fonterra’s coal use is replaced with cleaner alternatives, such as wood chip, and is not simply replaced with gas. Given the urgent need to transition our society away from carbon-intensive industries, it is paramount that all fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas, stay in the ground” said Clare.
“Fonterra also needs to strengthen its targets to reduce its gross emissions rather than relying on carbon offsets which shift the burden of emissions reduction offshore. New Zealand industries need to take responsibility for the harm they are causing to our climate.”