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Research shows natural gas isn’t a bridge fuel

Press Release
Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network (FFARN)

Research shows natural gas isn’t a bridge fuel to a low emissions economy

EMBARGOED UNTIL 12 Noon, 8 May 2018

The Government’s plan for transitioning away from reliance on oil and gas, announced by the Prime Minister in March and discussed in more detail recently by Minister for Energy and Resources Megan Woods, places considerable reliance on gas as a 'bridge fuel’.

Research by FFARN, presented at a briefing today at parliament, suggests this reliance is misguided. If we go down the path of more gas it is unlikely New Zealand will get to a low emissions economy in time to meet our Paris climate commitments and demonstrate leadership in slowing climate change.

Government’s ‘plan’ calls for no new offshore exploration permits, no change to existing exploration permits, no change to rules for obtaining a mining license, and continued onshore Taranaki exploration. The shift from oil and gas production, which places a priority on avoiding economic and social ‘shocks’ to businesses and communities, is expected to take decades.

But climate scientists warn we haven’t got that much time. Research on gas and climate change by Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research concluded “Not only is any new exploration and production incompatible with limiting global warming to below 2C, but many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their planned end-date.”

Dr Terrence Loomis, FFARN coordinator, said like most countries, New Zealand’s climate change policy approach at present is tilted toward demand side initiatives while avoiding supply side interventions that are crucial to fast-tracking transition to a low-emissions economy. The fossil fuel industry is doing all it can to slow the transition in order to prolong its survival, he said.

FFARN’s research report presents the case against gas as a bridge fuel, and makes several supply side recommendations the government needs to consider as part of a balanced, just transition. These include reinvesting $88m in subsidies in renewable technology, ending government promotional activities, reviewing the industry’s favourable tax treatment, and ending extensions to exploration and mining permits.

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