No more offshore oil permits, existing permits remain

Jacinda Ardern has announced that no more offshore oil exploration permits will be granted, something that will please the Greens, but she has made some short term exceptions for Taranaki (where most of our oil exploration is based), presumably to try to appease NZ First.

Stuff: Ardern announces an end to offshore oil exploration, with short reprieve for Taranaki

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an end to offshore oil exploration, with no new onshore permits outside Taranaki.

Actually the way I read things it just stops new permits being given, existing permits can still be used.

Ardern said the Government was “taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand”

As well as an immediate end to new offshore permits, some onshore will be offered to the industry for the next three years in onshore Taranaki, none of which will be on conservation land.

“This is a responsible step which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels. We’re striking the right balance for New Zealand – we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change,” Ardern said.

The decision to continue to offer onshore permits was partly a concession to Labour’s coalition partners, New Zealand First, which expressly supports extractive sectors. The move is also designed to head off the risk of judicial review.

“All three of the parties in this Government are agreed that we must take this step as part of our package of measures to tackle climate change. I’m grateful for the support of New Zealand First in ensuring the transition away from fossil fuels protects jobs and helps regions equip themselves for the future. I also thank the Green Party for their continued advocacy for action on climate change.

Russel Norman, the former Green Party co-leader who is now Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director said the Government “has listened to people throughout the country who have campaigned for seven years to bring an end to offshore oil and gas exploration”.

“The tide has turned irreversibly against Big Oil in New Zealand”.

The industry has warned that ending oil exploration will do little to cut emissions in New Zealand or overseas, as the move will not affect demand or supply.

We will just keep using oil drilled elsewhere in the world.

All existing permits, some of which could continue to operate for decades, will be protected under the Government’s plans.

So it doesn’t cut offshore drilling, it just rules out new offshore exploration permits, for now at least.

This may be largely symbolic given that oil exploration companies aren’t rushing to drill in the oceans around New Zealand. But it is an important symbol for the Greens.