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Offshore oil permits axed - Expert Reaction

Offshore oil permits axed and new greenhouse gas emission inventory - Expert Reaction

12 April 2018

The latest inventory of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions shows that there has been a 20 per cent increase in emissions from 1990 to 2016.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced the result of the inventory this morning a few hours after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that the Government would not hand out any new offshore oil and gas exploration permits through the Block Offer programme.

The Science Media Centre gathered expert reaction, please feel free to use these comments in your reporting. We may have further comments later in the day, which we will put on our website.


Professor Dave Frame, director, New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

"The new greenhouse gas numbers show the scale of the challenge ahead: while New Zealand’s gross emissions aren’t projected to grow, they aren’t projected to fall very fast, either. It’s good to see the Minister be clear that 'it won’t be easy to meet our 2030 target'. That’s been obvious for some time, and it’s why the existing target is already ambitious.

"It’s good for the climate to limit the expansion of the fossil fuel sector but economically it shifts a burden to regional development portfolios. It would be great to see New Zealand’s regions flourishing economically, environmentally, culturally and intellectually: that would help us with our chronic productivity and skills issues. But how do they get there? If today’s announcement signals the beginning of a new New Zealand economy based on skills and high productivity, then that would be great. But without that support, the decision will remain vulnerable to being overturned by future governments.

"Taken together these announcements show how the focus of climate policy, as is the case everywhere, is becoming a domestic balancing act: everyone desires a transition to a low carbon economy; but it’s not easy – it’s a long-haul, finely-tuned balancing act to make sure we are as strong on the noun as we are on the adjectives (and vice versa)."

No conflict of interest declared.


Dr Katharina Ruckstuhl, Associate Dean Māori, Otago Business School, University of Otago, comments:

"It should come as no surprise that the Government has announced the cessation of new offshore oil and gas exploration. However, the government was careful to note that current permits will continue, with some not expiring until 2050. This is roughly in line with the previous Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s belief that gas - Taranaki’s mainstay fuel - would still be needed for roughly 30 years until infrastructure and technology for renewables were in place.

"The announcement creates uncertainty for NZOG's new Monaco-based owners, Ofer global, and any future development off the Otago coast, which is predicted to be a gas development larger than Taranaki’s Kupe basin. With its share price falling on the news, it seems the market is not hopeful that NZOG will make good on its drill permit which is due to expire in April 2019."

Conflict of interest: Member of the Otago-Southland Community Panel that advises NZOG of the concerns of the community. Members of the panel do not receive funding from NZOG.


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