What’s wrong with phasing out fossil fuels in process heat

Metals New Zealand members are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades and support a just transition to a low-emissions economy as is the goal of Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019.

However, Metals members are hugely disappointed at the Ministry for the Environment’s approach in its focus on regulating process heat from fossil fuels, and the associated emissions, out of existence – as outlined in its discussion document on phasing out fossil fuels in process heat

Metals New Zealand’s submission makes it clear that we do not agree with the Ministry’s analysis of the status quo in New Zealand, which fails to take account of the critical role metals manufacturing plays in New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing and that there is currently no commercially available alternative to natural gas.

Suffice it to say, phasing out process heat from fossil fuels will enable the Ministry to achieve the 2050 zero carbon target. But the current bundle of proposals will spell the death knell of many forms of metals manufacturing which:

  • Are successful exporters in their own right, competing globally in high value added goods
  • Enable New Zealand’s exporters to add value to commodity export products
  • Enable New Zealand’s building, construction and infrastructure sectors to deliver
  • Contribute significantly to the local / regional communities in which they are located.

Also missing from this document is the fair transition for local manufacturing to a circular and low emission economy. It ignores how circularity can significantly reduce GHG emissions and we go into more detail in our submission.

While we understand what is being proposed – for Councils to effectively deliver climate change mitigation – we would ask the Ministry for the Environment to consider the practicality of what this will mean for business in securing discharge permits for GHG emissions. Business needs certainty to invest in low emission technologies. The Ministry needs to ensure that the proposed changes provide that certainty to maintain and grow local employment.

For New Zealand to successfully transition to a low emissions economy will require a basket load of “sticks” and “carrots”. The Ministry’s discussion document is loaded with sticks focusing only on emissions produced by small, medium sized and large enterprises in New Zealand. A positive and constructive alternative approach would have been to recognise the contribution which New Zealand’s manufacturing sector makes to New Zealand’s economy, regional communities and society and work constructively with the sector to enable a strong manufacturing sector to transition to a low emission New Zealand.

As alternative, and lower/zero GHG fuels become available then government will need to work with industry to develop pathways for transition, recognising that our manufacturing needs to be globally competitive.

You can view our submission here Metals New Zealand submission Phasing out fossil fuels in process heat final