Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Climate change: Two-faced

Back in April, the government put a bold stake in the ground for decarbonising New Zealand, by announcing that they would end offshore oil exploration. Now, they seem to be trying to roll that back:

Energy Minister Megan Woods has opened the door to giving oil companies more time to decide whether they "drill or drop", potentially breathing life into the sector.

Just hours before announcing a law change to give effect to the new offshore oil exploration ban on Monday, Woods met with oil industry figures to discuss their request for more leniency on the conditions of existing exploration permits.

Woods said she agreed that on a case-by-case basis, she will consider giving the oil companies more time to fulfil their commitments on the permits, describing it as "a little bit of a pause".

Although she did not put a time limit on the pauses or say under what conditions they might be granted, Woods said the pause was designed to give the industry time while the Government considered more wide-ranging changes to the Crown Minerals Act.

But why would we want to do that? The whole point of the offshore exploration ban is to kill off a destructive industry whose environmental costs vastly exceed its benefits. This is something which needs to happen if we want to mitigate the climate crisis into something merely horrific rather than absolutely catastrophic, and the only question is how fast we can do it. Interestingly, drill or surrender obligations put the speed of that phase-down in the oil industry's hands: if they want their industry to last a bit longer, they can gamble on finding something and drill. If they don't, they can surrender their permit and fuck off. Its entirely up to them. So this special pleading is... special. And Woods giving in to it is simply two-faced, a blatant undermining of the ban her government so proudly announced. But I guess that's Labour for you: two-faced, dishonest, and moronic enough to try to bargain with people who will never be its friends.

Meanwhile, Woods' Ministry is busy showing how badly it has been captured, with advice on the cost of the ban which ignores the costs of climate change and assumes no other country will do anything. Which is what happens when they base their advice on talking points sent to them by New Zealand Oil & Gas. Its also worth remembering that the demise of the oil industry will also mean that its regulator will no longer be necessary, so the people who wrote this advice are basicly arguing for their own jobs. Their "advice" should be viewed accordingly.