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Striking New Gas off Oamaru is a ‘Game-Changer’ - Yeah Right!

Striking New Gas is a ‘Game-Changer’ - Yeah, Right!

NZ Oil and Gas recently described a one-in-five chance of striking gas in the Barque field off Oamaru a ’game-changer’. It made glowing claims on its potential economic and environmental benefits. Climate Justice Taranaki rejects these claims completely.

“The World Meteorological Organization has just warned that at 403.3 parts per million, or 50 percent above the average in the last decade, the carbon dioxide level in our atmosphere has not been this high for 800,000 years. We are at the tipping point of a major climate catastrophe, driven by a worldwide reliance on fossil fuels, yet the company tried to tell us that there are environmental gains.

The claim that gas is a ‘clean’, ‘ethically-managed’ transition fuel has long been refuted by renowned scientists and organisations. Although gas burns ‘cleaner’ than coal, the amount of fugitive methane emission throughout the process of extraction, storage and transport, is enormous and mostly unaccounted for. The health and environmental impacts of the gas industry, especially unconventional gas, are well documented overseas,” said Catherine Cheung, of Climate Justice Taranaki.

In terms of economics, analyses conducted on behalf of the fossil fuel industry have never been done comprehensively, as they consistently ignore environmental and social costs, and the substantial government subsidies and incentives offered to companies. A WWF report revealed that in 2012/13 alone, such subsidies amounted to almost $85 million in New Zealand. This amount rose to over $120 million last year, according to a new report by Dr Terrence Loomis of the Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network.

“New Zealand’s new Prime Minister has declared that our future is not in fossil fuels and pledged to transition the regions and workforce that have been reliant on fossil fuel extraction. Major businesses including the NZ Super Fund and banks are ditching their carbon-intensive investments to reduce risks of losses as global economy embarks on rapid transition. There is simply no business case in fossil fuel exploration globally.

In a place like New Zealand, blessed with renewable energy sources, it is a no-brainer that phasing out all fossil fuels is the smart thing to do, not drilling for more gas or digging up more coal.

The real game-changer is when we finally learn to grow food and supply our own communities sustainably, without petrochemicals. We can also be the game-changer by becoming a responsible global citizen offering our ingenuity, rather than selling developing countries milk dehydrated by burning coal or gas and exploiting their cheap labour,” concluded Cheung.


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