Wednesday, September 26, 2018

This is where the Greens should put their foot down

Yesterday we learned that the government was undermining its own climate change policy, trying to extend oil exploration permits by stealth so polluters could effectively circumvent the offshore drilling ban. As for why, Stuff's Hamish Rutherfod links it to a dodgy oil prospect off the South Island:

As it stands, the Barque prospect off the coast of Oamaru will be lost forever if New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) does not find partners willing to commit to the major cost of drilling, by early 2019.

Although the odds of success are put at only one in five, NZOG has claimed that, if successful, Barque could transform New Zealand's energy outlook, with thousands of jobs and tens of billions of revenue.

Seen this way, Woods' gesture to the industry looks like a major contradiction of the Government's plan, to set New Zealand on a renewable future.

It now seems that Jacinda Ardern's Government wants to set New Zealand on a future without fossil fuels, but just in case we really should give the industry one last chance to see whether we can transform ourselves into the Saudi Arabia of the south.

Or, to put it another way, to give the alcoholic just one more drink. And we'll extend bar opening hours specially so they can have it.

I've said before that coalition parties get to dig their heels in against their partners without doing significant damage to the relationship, and so have to pick their battles. This is the battle the Greens should pick. Climate change is destroying the planet, destroying the future of your children and grandchildren. Ending our addiction to fossil fuels is critical to preventing that (or, more honestly, mitigating it, because our feckless, greedy parents have already fucked us). This fight is what the Greens stand for, so they need to put their foot down: say no, and threaten to withdraw confidence and supply if the government extends a single permit. It will burn their political capital with the government for the term. But for this issue, for the future, it will be worth it.