Thursday, December 15, 2022

Climate Change: Another baby step to decarbonisation

In 2018 the government banned issuing new offshore oil and gas exploration permits. It was the first baby step towards decarbonisation, essentially cutting off part of the pathway to new supply, gradually phasing out the industry. And it has worked - there were 22 offshore exploration permits in 2018, and now there are only four (the number of onshore permits has also reduced from nine to six). The fossil fuel pipeline is being slowly closed off. So now the government has announced the next baby-step: banning onshore exploration:

In a continuation of the Government's staged phase-out of fossil fuel exploration in New Zealand, Energy Minister Megan Woods will pause the issuance of any new oil and gas permits until after next year's election.


The fate of the next onshore block offer has been uncertain for the better part of a year, amidst mounting evidence that the world cannot exploit most known fossil fuel reserves without blasting past the 1.5C and even 2C temperature goals.

Now Woods said she will pause any further block offers until the next Parliamentary term.

"“I am not committing to any further block offers now. Decisions will be made early in the next Parliamentary term when there will be a better evidence base of future demand," she said.

Which is good, but before anyone gets too enthusiastic, this is basicly an extension of the existing policy (which has seen only three new onshore permits issued since the ban, and no new block offers), and it is only until the election (meaning that they might reverse it afterwards). In other words, rather than actually doing something, they're playing the usual mealy-mouthed chickenshit game and not actually committing. And this is a policy they need to commit to. If we are to survive the climate crisis, that means no new gas, oil or coal, which means cutting that pipeline now. But more than that, it means phasing out existing fossil fuel production and banning imports of these destructive, environmentally damaging substances. And that means setting a date or dates to kill this industry. Sooner is better, but the mere act of setting a date will give us all certainty about the need for change and let us move forward.

Instead of doing what is necessary, Labour is trying to cling to the past and trying to pretend that nothing needs to change. And this makes them little different from the dirty climate deniers in National and ACT.