Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Climate Change: Fixing the Crown Minerals Act?

Back in August, the High Court ruled that the Zero Carbon Act isn't worth shit and that the government can continue to approve new fossil fuel exploration without having to consider climate change. The core of the problem is the Crown Minerals Act, and in particular its purpose: "to promote prospecting for, exploration for, and mining of Crown owned minerals for the benefit of New Zealand". Now, the government is finally fixing the problem:

The Government will change “nonsensical” mining legislation that requires it to grant oil companies permits to look for new fossil fuels.


Energy Minister Megan Woods announced that a crucial sentence about promoting mineral exploitation will be changed, so the Government can say no to companies.

This is good, of course - but the government needs to go further. We don't just need a minerals regime that allows mining companies to be controlled - we need to phase out fossil fuels. And that means not just being able to reject new permits for coal and petroleum, but banning them, while sunsetting existing permits and their associated resource consents. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer's Prohibition on Seabed Mining Legislation Amendment Bill will do that for offshore mining, and Eugenie Sage's Crown Minerals (Prohibition of Mining) Amendment Bill would do it for coal. Labour opposes both. Which tells us exactly how un-serious they are on climate change.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the court decision, NZPAM has been extending gas and oil permits right, left and centre. It would be good if the legislation explicitly overturned those self-interested, politically-motivated decisions.