New Zealand bans all future offshore oil and gas drilling

New Zealand has become one of the world’s first countries to meaningfully ban future offshore oil and gas exploration, in a move designed to combat climate change (Financial Times – may be behind paywall). While France, Belize, and Costa Rica have previously announced restrictions on gas and oil exploration or production, this was seen as largely symbolic, as none of them is a major fossil fuel producer.

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New Zealand’s ban will apply to new permits and won’t affect the existing 22 offshore rights, which all expire by 2030 (FT). Future oil and gas exploration will now be limited to onshore activity.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her Labour-NZ First coalition government “has a plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future, one that looks 30 years in advance” (The Guardian). Ardern also said they are committed to transitioning to 100 percent of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2035 and making the economy carbon neutral by 2050.

The National Party opposition said the government’s ban was “economic vandalism” and that it made no environmental sense. “This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high-paying jobs and $2.5bn for the economy,” the National Party’s energy and resources spokesman, Jonathan Young, said (The Guardian).

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand criticized the government for not consulting the industry first, saying that other energy sources were not ready to meet demand and that oil would have to be imported at a higher cost (New York Times – may be behind paywall).

New Zealand imports more oil than it exports, and it is a small producer on the global stage, with industry figures estimating its exports worth $1.1 billion annually (New York Times).

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