NZ stops offshore oil and gas exploration to tackle climate change

NZ stops offshore oil and gas exploration to tackle climate change

NZ stops offshore oil and gas exploration to tackle climate change

New Zealand said on Thursday it would not grant any new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration, taking the industry by surprise with a decision that it said would push investment overseas.

"There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted", said Jacinda Ardern.

The Prime Minister says it's an important step in addressing climate change.

Her government, elected previous year, has ambitious goals of generating all power in New Zealand from renewable sources by 2035 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand criticized the federal government for not consulting with the business, stating alternative power sources were not yet prepared to meet demand and that oil would have to be erased from other countries at a greater cost.

In total, there are 31 now active oil and gas exploration permits in New Zealand with nine of them being onshore.

Chief executive Cameron Madgwick said a well-managed trading scheme was the way to reduce New Zealand's emissions, not "arbitrarily banning" certain fuel types.

"We are protecting existing exploration and mining rights".

There are still 31 existing exploration permits covering 100,000 km that won't be affected by the decision, meaning there is no immediate impact on the oil and gas industry, which directly employs 4,700 people and supports thousands more. She said her goal is for all of the electricity New Zealand uses to come from renewable energy sources by 2035.

Although welcomed by the previous government, foreign oil companies have met strong resistance from the New Zealand public, Indigenous communities, and environmental NGOs.

"The tide has turned irreversibly against Big Oil in New Zealand", Norman added.

National Party Bay of Plenty MP and climate change spokesperson Todd Muller says the decision makes no sense - environmentally or economically - because less gas production means more coal being burnt and higher carbon emissions.

This, she said, underscored the fact that climate change was real and New Zealand needed to be at the forefront of efforts to address it.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom told Radio New Zealand the move was a "kick in the guts for the future of the Taranaki economy".

There are 31 oil and gas exploration permits now active and 22 are offshore.

Angus Rodger, a research director at consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said New Zealand's move was "a bold step".

She said there would also be limited new on-shore permits around the North Island's Taranaki region, where most of New Zealand industry is concentrated.

"This decision is devoid of any rationale. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions", Mr Young said.

"We now have 31 live exploration permits, 22 of them offshore".

"It is time to also retire the applications and permits held over the large tracts of our sea that the previous government opened to exploration under its block offers".

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