In an announcement that mostly just amounts to a milking circumstance for PR purposes, the current administration in New Zealand has announced that it won’t be granting any new offshore oil and gas exploration permits or holding an associated tender process.
To explain that a bit more, owing to relatively low global oil prices in recent years, there hasn’t actually been much interest in New Zealand’s offshore fossil fuel resources — with just one permit granted last year (as compared to 10 in 2013). However, with oil prices seemingly beginning to rise again, it’s perhaps the case that interest would have been stronger this year than last, it should be noted.
Also noteworthy is that acting on the existing exploration permits (22 in total) is still completely valid — with those holding them still granted the right to pursue mining/drilling permits that would remain valid for up to 40 years.
So, it’s by no means the case that the announcement represents a real shift away from fossil fuels in New Zealand. It seems to mostly be a matter of greenwashing, to be blunt. (Administrations to follow may of course choose to again begins granting exploration permits, by the way.)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated: “This is a responsible step which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels. … We’re striking the right balance for New Zealand — we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change.”
Reuters provides more: “Ardern’s centre-left Labour-led government, which took the helm in October after almost a decade of centre-right National Party rule, has a support arrangement with the environmentally-focused Green Party. Ardern had campaigned during the election to focus on preventing climate change and vowed that her government would move the country toward having no net carbon emissions by 2050.”
Overall, this is by no means bad news, but it’s also not what many in the media seem to be trying to present it as. There’s going to need to be far more done than simple greenwashing PR exercises if extreme anthropogenic climate weirding and warming is to be mitigated.