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National reinstating new offshore oil and gas exploration would be ‘really awkward’ for New Zealand

2 November, 2023

Interview by Rosetta Stone, adapted by Joel Armstrong

Greenpeace Spokesperson, Amanda Larsson, says the National Party’s proposal to overturn the ban on new offshore gas and oil exploration would be “regressive” for New Zealand’s climate progress. 

Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has committed to reinstating new gas and oil exploration, a practice banned by the previous Labour-led government in 2018.

National has received criticism for this policy, with the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental agency that seeks to work with countries around the world to influence energy policies for a secure and sustainable future, releasing a report calling it “nonsensical” and “foolish”.

Greenpeace has sent an open letter to the oil and gas industry, warning that despite the new government promising to give them the go-ahead, companies would face strong backlash if they search for new fossil fuels. 

Greenpeace Spokesperson, Amanda Larsson, told 95bFM’s The Wire, that it would be a step backward for New Zealand, especially with the upcoming UN climate conference in December, where countries will be looking at ways to phase out fossil fuels. 

“New Zealand has previously been a champion in that space, having banned offshore oil and gas exploration in the past and being part of what is called the beyond oil and gas alliance.”

“It will be really awkward for the New Zealand government to come back to that UN conference with a more regressive stance.”

Annually, the IEA releases its World Energy Outlook, which analyses what is happening in the energy sector. The most recent World Energy Outlook report identified that the use of fossil fuels is decreasing, while more environmentally friendly alternatives — such as electric vehicles (EVs) and offshore wind and heat pumps, are on the rise.

The IEA has predicted that by the end of the decade, there will be ten times more EVs on the road, as well as renewable energy making up half of the world’s electricity.

Larsson believes Luxon’s views on the use of fossil fuels are outdated.

“The analysis of where the energy sector is going makes Luxon’s plan to bring back more offshore oil and gas exploration wildly out of touch with what is happening in the energy sector.”

She said the desire to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy partly stems from severe environmental events internationally, but in Aotearoa as well.

“People can see that climate change is happening around us. Cyclone Gabrielle, the Auckland floods, all over the world we are seeing fires, floods, and droughts, and everyone is more aware of the impact that fossil fuels are having on the climate. So that's part of the reason we are seeing this move away from fossil fuels.”

Larsson advocated for shared ownership of resources with iwi and hapu for a just transition to renewable energy. 

“I think it is really important that we follow the examples of other parts of the world where shared ownership has been prioritised.”

“Ensuring that Māori and local communities are owners and are dictating where that technology should be located for cultural reasons, and to benefit people, rather than overseas investors.”

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air