Government has no plan for phasing out fossil fuels
Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network (FFARN)
Dr Terrence Loomis, Coordinator
25 May 2018
Shortly before the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration in April, she declared “We have a plan for weaning New Zealand off fossil fuels and it has a timeline that stretches out nearly 30 years into the future.”
Unfortunately, it appears the PM mislead the public. There is no such plan.
Responding to an OIA request yesterday, the Minister for Energy and Resources Dr Megan Woods reiterated the government’s goals of achieving a net zero emissions economy by 2050 and 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035. MBIE had been asked to establish a team “to consider what a just transition looks like for New Zealand, which would include the fossil fuel industry.”
Apparently the transition plan will not involve a rapid phasing out of fossil fuels. The Minister told the New Zealand Petroleum conference in March the government wants to avoid disruption to the economy, communities …and the industry.
In fact the government is counting on continued oil and gas development past 2050, and betting on natural gas as a bridge fuel to a low emissions economy. Dr Woods told TVNZ’s interviewer Corin Dann on Q+A in April “We’re talking about a 30, 40-year transition.” The transition plan “will still use peaking” (gas plants) to ensure energy security. “People will still be drilling for oil and gas in New Zealand in 2030 and possibly 2050, 2060 and possibly 2070.”
But a research report released by the Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network (FFARN) warns that we haven’t got decades of continued oil and gas development if New Zealand is to meet its Paris Climate Agreement emissions targets. At present the world is on track to surpass 2C warming. And international research indicates reliance on the ‘gas bridge’ is a dead end, locking us into continued industry emissions and costly taxpayer support for infrastructure that will rapidly become redundant. The industry is struggling to survive by extending the transition process for as long as possible.
The FFARN report called for additional supply-side interventions similar to the ban on offshore exploration as part of a just transition plan, like ending permit extensions, rescinding onshore block offers in Taranaki and reinvesting $87.6m in government oil and gas subsidies in alternative technology and infrastructure.