Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Climate Change: The next step

This morning Parliament passed the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Act, outlawing future offshore oil and gas exploration. As I've already argued, its fatally compromised by allowing existing permits to be extended and expanded - effectively giving the fossil fuel industry an indefinite licence to drill. But its a good first step. Still, it is only a first step. If the government is serious about avoiding catastrophic climate change, it is going to have to revisit this issue. Here's how:

  • we can't afford to burn the oil and gas we already have, so looking for more is pointless. They need to ban onshore exploration as well.
  • The ban needs to be an actual ban, which means preventing permits from being extended or expanded, and ending the right to convert exploration permits into mining permits. That way the oil stays in the ground, where it belongs.
  • Finally, we need to sunset all existing petroleum mining permits, so no more is extracted.
  • We need to do the same for coal as well.
And that's only part of the issue. Obviously we need to eliminate fossil fuel use, by replacing it with renewable and zero-emission technology throughout the economy. But that's a wider problem.

Labour was too cowardly to do what was required and send a clear signal to the oil industry that their time is over. Hopefully Jacinda Ardern's successors will have what it takes to actually confront "our generation's nuclear-free moment".