New Zealand Bans Oil and Gas Exploration
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, took to the media on April 12th, 2018 to announce no new offshore oil exploration permits will be granted moving forward. Effectively banning new oil and gas exploration projects. This policy decision is viewed as historic victory in the battle against climate change by conservation and environmental groups within the country.
Oil and gas companies often need to explore offshore sites to drill and find new oil. The problem is that these fuels are finite resources and eventual run out. As these companies extract all the oil from exciting sites, they will seek for new locations to drill as supply falls.
The ban will apply to new permits and won’t affect the existing 50 offshore oil exploration permits, some of which have decades left on their exploration rights and cover an area of 100,000 sq km.
In her statement Ardern made it very clear it plans to honor all the existing permits. But her government is making it clear where it stands on environmentalism. She went on to reaffirm New Zealand commitments to the Paris Accord in a plea to the international community.
“When it comes to offering anymore [permits] that will take us well beyond 2050, we have to say let’s use the oil & gas we got but beyond that we need to start looking for alternatives.”
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister
Ardern went on Facebook live to announce her position – moments before the press conference. You can see the full clip below:
Jacinda Ardern & The Labour Party
Ardern came to power in 2017 after her Labour Party campaigned on policies to protect the environment, including moving away from a reliance on fossil fuels. The Labour coalition made tackling climate change one of the cornerstones of its policies.
Since the campaign, the Labour collation has set goals to make the entire economy carbon neutral by 2050. With hopes of generating 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2035.
The opposition party slammed the government’s ban as “economic vandalism” and said it made no environmental sense. Business leaders within the New Zealand oil & gas industry also voiced concerns over the policy decisions.
“Renewable energy can provide almost all our electricity needs in a year of normal rainfall. But another two-thirds of our national energy use is industrial and transport related, for which complete renewable alternatives are not currently economically viable.”
Andrew Jefferies, New Zealand Oil & Gas Chief Executive
Ardern said that by signaling the eventual end to exploration, the government is giving the oil & gas industry ample notice to develop new technologies and invest in fresh directions. In her transition plans Ardern declared intentions to provide benefits for displaced workers as a result of the decision.
Will this help New Zealand meeting its climate goals? What does this mean for the international community? Let us know your take in the comments.