Oil drilling consent "deeply hypocritical" following Madrid climate summit
Tuesday, 17 December: Greenpeace has slammed the Government for granting a controversial oil and gas drilling consent just days after championing New Zealand’s climate leadership at a global summit in Madrid.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved Austrian oil company OMV’s application to drill exploratory oil and gas wells at depths of up to 1,500 meters in the Great South Basin, off the Otago coast.
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, labeled the decision "deeply hypocritical".
"New Zealand politicians have been in Madrid these last weeks selling their supposed climate leadership to the world. But, under their watch, the EPA is allowing one of history’s largest climate polluters to drill for more oil and gas right here in New Zealand."
OMV is one of just 100 companies that have caused more than 70% of all carbon emissions since the 1980s. The company has brought a 34,000 tonne oil rig to New Zealand to drill wells off the Taranaki and Otago coasts this summer.
"Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a bold, world-leading decision when she banned new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in April 2018. It’s a policy that she and her government have used repeatedly to sell New Zealand’s climate leadership to the world.
"It is deeply hypocritical to now approve more oil and gas drilling just days after returning from the world’s most important annual climate conference."
The 2018 ban did not revoke permits that had been released under the previous government, of which 14 remain. OMV holds exactly half of these permits.
"We’re in a climate emergency that is being driven by fossil fuels. We can’t afford to burn even the oil and gas in existing fields, let alone search for more. Companies like OMV seem willing to condemn us to an unlivable future by exploring for new oil and gas to burn."
Today’s decision comes on the heels of a wave of protests by hundreds of people across the North and South Islands against OMV. In Timaru, protesters occupied OMV’s "henchboat", the Skandi Atlantic, for three days, delaying it from leaving port to head to a drill site off Taranaki. Days later, over a hundred people shut down OMV’s offices in New Plymouth for over three days.
Larsson says it’s no surprise that New Zealanders are taking action to stop more oil and gas drilling.
"The smoke from Australia’s devastating bushfires can be seen on the horizon here in New Zealand. Increasingly severe typhoons are ravaging the Philippines. Our neighbours in the Pacific are losing their homes to sea level rise. This is a crisis that is costing people their homes and their lives today," says Larsson.
"Oil companies like OMV have known about climate change for thirty years. They’ve had ample opportunity to transition to clean energy. Instead, the have squandered a generation’s-worth of time and now people are suffering the impacts of climate change."
"When governments and businesses are failing to lead, it’s up to every one of us to step in and stop big polluters from wrecking the only planet we have. OMV should expect resistance."