Oil and gas unethical?

Dunedin City councillor Jinty MacTavish suggests oil and gas is unethical, and she wants council guidelines that rule out using staff time or resources on anything deemed to be unethical.

Hello Dunedin! I’m keen for some feedback here.

Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?*

Over 87% of submitters to a recent consultation we held on oil and gas exploration, told us they didn’t support it off our coast. If that is even vaguely close to an accurate reflection of public opinion, it suggests our city collectively opposes the activity. In that context, how comfortable would our citizens be with the Council actively seeking to maximise financial gain from that same activity?

Council could seek to do this in two ways:-
1. Using staff time or resources, or investing in infrastructure to help ensure Dunedin becomes the base of choice for oil companies.
2. To continue to seek distribution of royalties (the money the O&G companies pay the government) more locally.

Councillors’ views of the approaches were canvassed by the ODT yesterday, and some of the feedback they got is in today’s article – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/287660/oil-gas-base-host-race

To me, advocating for the second feels like a more ethical approach than the first. It is the Government that is imposing this on the regions – it’s not a choice that the regions have made. Therefore advocating for what is in effect compensation from the Government for their actions, feels like a reasonably ethical stance. But using ratepayers’ resources to convince a company whose activities we apparently collectively oppose to choose Dunedin as their base, feels to me as unethical as it does stupid**. If Council is in the business of wooing multinational coorperations to set up shop in Dunedin (which seems a questionably approach to economic development anyway) we could at least choose one that enhanced our brand and city offering, rather than detracting from it.

In my view, Council investments (whether staff time or cash), should be informed by its community’s views on what it’s right and ethical to be involved in. Thanks to submissions made to last year’s Annual Plan, we’ll be considering a ethical investment guidelines for the Waipori Fund in a few weeks time (will keep you posted on that). Perhaps there’s merit in considering extending those guidelines to cover other areas of Council investment (like staff time).

I’d welcome your thoughts…

I welcome thoughts on this too.

Is using oil and gas unethical? Or just oil and gas recovered in New Zealand?

Sourced from Facebook: Councillor Jinty MacTavish

6 Comments

  1. Gas exploration & exploitation is a completely different issue from Oil E&E. Oil is at least 30 times more likely to be found in the Great South Basin, whereas chances of finding light oils is under 1%, and heavy oils zero, due to the geology of NZ. Gas has zero risk of creating an oil slick that might reach land, coating beaches and wildlife. Gas as an energy source has a small fraction of the effect of oil on the atmosphere, such that the massive shift driven by relative prices from oil to gas in North America has reduced hydrocarbon release by about 1% p.a. since 2000.

  2. Goldie

     /  9th January 2014

    WTF? Yet another Greenie. In the past week it seems to have been a blizzard of nonsense from the Green Party.

    In the past I have always gotten on well with people on the left (mostly trade unionists) – I disagree with them, but I understand where they come from, and our disagreements are not on the problems but on the real-world policy solutions. I also avoid calling people crazy or stupid, as it is just childish name-calling. But reading the statements of the Greens, I believe that many Greens are detached from reality.

  3. OneTrack

     /  10th January 2014

    If oil and gas is “unethical” then, surely, using them is unethical as well. So is Jinty going to push for the council to get rid of all their vehicles and move to horses and carts. And turn off any reticulated gas in thr city. If not, why not.

  4. Fisiani

     /  10th January 2014

    Jinty is yet another back to the Stone Age Green. God help us if they ever get in government

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