New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, set a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050 — and she’s taking action now. This week, she said the country will no longer grant new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, Reuters reported. Ardern said in a live Facebook video, “The whole world is going in this direction. We all signed up to the Paris Agreement that said we were moving towards carbon neutrality and now we need to act on it.”
Ardern surprised the oil and gas industry with her announcement, which won’t impact the 22 existing exploration permits, Reuters said. She said in the Facebook video in making this decision, she considered ensuring security of supply; job security, especially for places where jobs center around the fossil fuel industry; and meeting their obligations and ambitions around tackling climate change.
A few details on the big oil and gas announcement we made today…
Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Not everyone is happy about Ardern’s decision. Neil Holdom, mayor of New Plymouth in the Taranaki region, which Reuters said is energy-rich, described the move as “a kick in the guts.” Taranaki Daily News quoted Energy and Resources spokesperson for the opposition party Jonathan Young as saying, “What will replace gas as the demand for more electricity rose with electric vehicles and we don’t have enough renewables. It will be coal — good one government.”
Ardern said permits can last for years, and “that’s why we have to make decisions with really long lead times about what we do in the future.” She said the country will “continue onshore block offers” for three years and then review again.
Environmental organization praised the move. Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman told The Guardian, “Today’s announcement is significant internationally too. By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth-largest exclusive economic zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation…Bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time has never been more urgent and Ardern has stepped up to that climate challenge.”