The Government's National Energy Strategy differs little from the shocking draft that was released prematurely, fossil fuels remain prominent in the strategy and it even spends time promoting the value of such resources.
While it has to be accepted our reliance on oil and coal can't be totally ignored a weaning process should be an important part of any strategy and this document appears to ignore this. There is a deliberate drive to exploit our carbon based resources to the maximum and make as much profit as possible while the going is good.
"The Government wants New Zealand to be a highly attractive global destination for petroleum exploration and production investment so we can develop the full potential of our petroleum resources."
While all the content on energy efficiencies, energy conservation and promoting alternatives exists, it really does appear as if they were things that "politically" should be mentioned but the key strategy is elsewhere. It is obvious that for the near future the money and governmental direction will be focussed most heavily on fossil fuels. This will only encourage and continue our dependence on this diminishing resource and put us into an even more vulnerable position in the future.
The promotion of "best practice" as a way of ensuring environmental responsibility has some serious flaws. Best practice means the best from current practice and in many industries the best falls short of good practice. A local environmentalist recently asked Minister Nick Smith for examples of best practice for lignite mining and got a silent response. Shell and Petrobras would probably claim that they operate using best practice but for many reasons I wouldn't feel reassured by such claims.
The strategy's answer for the management of over-charging electricity companies is just to create more companies. It seems when there is a poorly functioning market the answer is to open it up even further, direct regulation of electricity markets is not an option for this government, even when market models are clearly failing. In fact the National Government continues to rely on business to self regulate despite the failings of the mining industry to ensure mine safety or the building industry to avoid the leaking building debacle:
"The Government encourages development and use of voluntary industry standards to rate building energy performance."
It is a real worry that this is the determining document for our nation's energy future when Venture Southland produced a provincial strategy that appears to have come from a far more reasoned and researched perspective.
Idiot/Savant describes the National strategy well when he says:
"This isn't a "strategy". Instead, its an abdication of responsibility. The lack of targets is a commitment to doing nothing, to business as usual. While that does produce slight improvements in energy efficiency, the government - and New Zealand - should be demanding more."