100% Possible, NZ beyond fossil fuels

Posted by Karen Driver
From: Nelson Mail

Climate change is generally portrayed in Dooms Day tones but change is possible if as a society we collectively decide to make it happen. An inspiring group of young New Zealanders has kicked off the 100% Possible campaign which aims to usher in a fossil free New Zealand. The Nelson Environment Centre decided to find out more about this audacious campaign so interviewed one of the key organizers, Ashlee Gross.

What is the overall goal of the campaign?

First, we are looking to change existing government policy on transport and renewable energy, as well as work longer term with all parties on their policies coming into the 2014 national election.

Second, we’ll be working with communities and councils around New Zealand to install, create, or otherwise bring about projects like adding solar panels to public buildings and schools or to help local businesses fund sustainable improvements; projects which are important in their own right.

Third, we’ll be going out and talking to people, actually listening to their ideas on how we should make this happen, getting the word out about just how achievable it is to ramp up the speed at which we’re moving beyond fossil fuels, and asking people to come together to ask the government to step up.

What are the biggest obstacles to achieving your goals?

I think the biggest obstacle at the moment is politicians who have decided on a project or a policy without first doing the full research or the math on it.  The result being that, no matter what the facts show, or how the numbers add up (or rather don’t add up), they won’t budge. We have to move beyond that.

What things can or cannot be taken by ordinary people in your opinion?

One simple thing people can do is look at their car use. We’re not anti-car, but we want to reduce use where we can. Think about not driving your vehicle for trips under 2km. Also, if you are on a public transport route, or are within walking or cycling distance to work, ditch the car. If you do have a longer commute, start by making the time to walk or cycle once a week.  This obviously isn’t always an option for people in more rural areas, and that’s where we see longer term solutions like electric cars or biofuels coming in.  If transport isn’t an option for you look at something else. In Nelson and Tasman there are great solar resources available. Check out these, or other renewable energy options, for your house or business.

What does a world beyond fossil fuels look like to you?

It’s not physically that much different from our current world. Coal power plants will be replaced by commercial scale solar arrays and geothermal plants. Kids will grow up taking these for granted, just as we do now with power plants. There will be more wind turbines, but we won’t have blanketed our country with them. Instead we’ll have changed our habits to be more energy efficient, plus made more use of distributed generation (small scale generation like solar panels on homes) to create the energy we need to meet our current electricity needs, but also those of vehicles.  It will be possible to move our transport over to electricity without needing a wind turbine on every corner, because we’ll also have put our money into substantially improving public transport and encouraging cycling and walking. We’ll find ourselves fitter and with lower national health bills.  All of this will mean current oil, coal and natural gas linked jobs being replaced by jobs not only around the production of renewable energy, but also new jobs in developing cutting edge renewables technology. We’ll be leading the way on sustainable agriculture, maximizing income based on our international reputation for quality not just quantity.   Thankfully the world will look similar to how it does today in some key ways, including having our island neighbours in the Pacific still on the map.

To find out more about the 100% Possible campaign and what you can do help move New Zealand beyond fossil fuels visit http://www.100percentpossible.org.nz/

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