A petition to stop the government from handing out oil and gas permits for onshore drilling in Taranaki has reached nearly 3000 signatures in its first few weeks.
Urs Signer, Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson, says the petition shows community opposition to the government’s plan to open over 20% of the region for further oil and gas drilling through the Petroleum Block Offer process.
“Handing out permits for more fossil fuel exploration while the planet is heating at unprecedented rates can only be described as ecocide. The climate emergency demands we transition away from fossil fuels towards using far less energy and only clean sustainable energy sources.”
Signer said the recent climate change-fuelled storms should be a wake-up call. “We are seeing and feeling the impacts of climate change with our very own eyes.”
However John Carnegie, Energy Resources Aotearoa chief executive, said gas is “an important transition fuel” to help New Zealand achieve net zero emissions. “Less natural gas would mean more high-emissions imported coal or an energy shortfall.”
According to Gas Industry Co, the biggest use of gas in New Zealand (45%) is as a feedstock to make petrochemicals. Most of the methanol produced (95%) is exported to the Asia Pacific region, bringing in $835 million of export earnings. Exports aren’t counted as greenhouse gas emissions for New Zealand, but there is an argument that it’s all the same to the atmosphere.
Final tender round?
This could be the last tender round for oil and gas exploration, with the government announcing in December last year that it would defer decisions on future petroleum block offers beyond Block Offer 2020 until after the election.
The Labour-NZ First-Green Government banned offshore oil and gas exploration in 2018, but the National party has said it will repeal the ban if elected.
The government’s Emissions Reduction Plan includes plans to get rid of fossil fuels in electricity generation by 2030.
The Climate Change Commission has said fossil gas will transition out of the system, but will remain important for security of electricity supply through the second emissions budget period (2026–2030) and for some industrial uses beyond that.
“Fossil gas combustion emissions made up 9% of gross greenhouse gas emissions in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020 and need to be reduced. In the Commission’s demonstration path, fossil gas emissions reduce by 18% by 2025 and 37% by 2030, relative to 2020.”
The block offer area covers 1,565.5 km² of land, following nominations from industry for potential land blocks and consultation with iwi.
The Block Offer is now open now and closes at 5pm on July 26.