When Gerry Brownlee released a Draft New Zealand Energy Strategy (NZES) and Draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (NZEECS) for public consultation, it was hardly surprising that criticism began to flow.
The New Zealand Energy Strategy sets the strategic direction of the energy sector and the role energy will play in the New Zealand economy, while the NZEECS is a companion strategy, specifically focusing on the promotion of energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy.
“The government's vision is for the energy sector to maximise its contribution to the economy," says Brownlee.
But with the release of the drafts came criticism firstly from WWF New Zealand who called the strategy "riddled with holes and dangerously biased towards mineral extraction".
"The Government's draft energy strategy clearly prioritises unsustainable fossil fuel extraction over policies to drive down greenhouse gas emission or stimulate alternative technologies," says Peter Hardstaff, WWF-New Zealand climate change Ccmpaigner.
"When it comes to developing new energy sources, the government says it "will not pick winners" and will wait to see what happens when oil prices rise. When it comes to existing energy sources, the government is happy to 'pick winners' and provide the support the oil and coal industry demands," he says.
Now Labour have spoken out, saying the documents reinforce National’s old-fashioned thinking that burning oil, coal and gas should dominate New Zealand’s future energy supply.
"There are three main problems with Gerry Brownlee's new strategy,” say Labour's Energy Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta and Environment Spokesperson Charles Chauvel.
The first and most serious problem, say the pair, is the lack of renewable energy promotion. They say the documents pay “lip service” to the goal of achieving 90 percent renewable electricity generation by 2025, with no incentives to promote wind, hydro, solar, wave, and tidal energy.
“The new Energy Strategy is far too focused on the use of fossil fuels. If adopted, it will lock us in to using them instead of promoting our natural advantages in cleaner, renewable alternatives,” they say.
The second problem is the time taken for Gerry Brownlee to publish the draft documents, say Mahuta and Chauvel.
“He first announced his intention to review the Energy Strategy in February 2009. Nearly 18 months later, a revised draft has finally been published for public consultation.”
The third and final bone of contention for the Labour MP’s is what they call the short time frame given for the public to respond to the documents. The documents were made public on Friday and feedback is required by September 2.
“Six weeks is a very short period of time to make submissions on policies that signal a major retreat from a lower-emissions, renewable energy future,” they say.
For the full brief on Brownlee’s announcement, click here.